Though the disastrous recession that began in December 2007 ended more than 10 years ago, its impact lingers. And recently the stock market has been showing signs that another recession may not be far off. So how did the Great Recession affect the average American? Bankrate, an independent financial publisher, surveyed more than 2,700 adults who were at least 18 years old when the last recession started. Here’s what the survey found…
one-a quarter of those surveyed in the nationwide poll, or the equivalent of 47 million adult Americans, said that they are actually worse off financially today than they were when the so-called Great Recession began.
Another 25% said their financial situation is about the same as it was in December 2007. Only slightly more than half, or 51%, said they are doing better now than before the recession.
“The echoes of the financial crisis and Great Recession remain very present in the financial lives of many Americans, despite the improvement in the broader economy,” said Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate.com. “While some have managed to prosper in the decade since, there are still tens of millions who are struggling to even get back to where they were before the economy took a turn for the worse.”
Not surprisingly, much of the distress is due to the reduced earning power of those surveyed today compared to 2007. Fewer than half of those surveyed, 46%, said their wages or salaries were higher than before the recession.
Age was a major factor for those grappling with lowered earnings. For example, 26% of baby boomers—those in the survey age 55 to 73—said their pay is lower now than it was before the recession.
Respondents cited a variety of ways they coped with the Great Recession. Roughly one-quarter, or 24%, of those who said they had emergency savings at the time drew down those savings, 19% said they had incurred substantial debt and a like percentage of those with retirement savings said they had tapped them.
Nevertheless, 29% of those surveyed said they have become more focused on paying down debt, 23% said they are saving more for emergencies and 18% said that they were saving more for retirement.
The last recession should teach us all an important lesson about being careful with our money and savings. Bankrate’s Hamrick echoed the words of many financial analysts when he said, “There will be a downturn at some point—we just don’t know when.”