Poll Gives New Economic Insight

February 26, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
An ABC News-Washington Post poll gives us a fresh perspective on the recession. One thousand people were interviewed from many walks of life. Making ends meet is a daily struggle for Nikki and Bill Maxwell both of whom lost their jobs in the past six months.

"In the last year we've gone from being a whole foods family to being a food bank family," said Nikki Maxwell.

The Maxwells are but two of the millions whose lives have been turned upside down by the economic crisis.

In the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll: one out of every 3 Americans said someone in their household lost a job or suffered a pay cut and 7 out of 10 say it's happened to a close friend or family member.

"It's everywhere I look. You can't help but to see it," said Diane Beamer.

Diane Beamer said her husband's pay has been cut drastically. So the couple has cut back on their spending, perpetuating what analysts say is a vicious economic spiral:

"Diane spends less money at her corner grocery store, her drug store, and then the drug store doesn't make much money, then they have to start laying off people and the people they lay off in turn don't spend money," said Stephen Leeb, Economic Analyst and author.

In fact, 67-percent of Americans said they're now cutting back on spending. 31-percent are cutting back "sharply."

Even on necessities such as dental work. "A lot times, patients will say, if it doesn't hurt, leave it alone," said Dentist Dr. Ira Morrow.

Another sign of trouble; first-time requests for unemployment benefits rose far more than expected, to 67,000, up from 631,000 the week before.

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