The Marlin Company 14th Annual Attitudes in the American Workplace Poll reports the following results on June 24.
More than one third (41%) of US workers are cutting back on utilities, nearly half have reduced food purchases (48.5%) and a large percentage are buying less clothing.Complete survey results can be found on The Marlin Company Attitude Survey press release.
The national survey of US workers, conducted May 12-14, 2008, also found that younger workers (between the ages of 18 to 29) are being hit the hardest by the economy and are the most desperate about their economic future. More than one third (34.3%) of young American workers say their financial situation has caused them to “feel hopelessness or despair about their economic future.” That compares with 28.8% of workers age 30 to 49, 23.5% of workers 50-64 and 17.9% of workers 65 or older.
Nearly a third (31.4%) of workers report being occasionally kept awake at night because they worry they will not meet housing payments, credit cards, or other personal expenses, 36.8% of whom were between the ages of 18 and 29.
And nearly one fourth (23.4%) of US workers say their financial situation has distracted them on the job, with the most distracted being young workers, age 18 to 29 (36.8%).
“US workers are hurting on multiple fronts, and their pain is growing,” stated Kenna.
“This year’s poll clearly illustrates exactly how damaging the current state of the US economy is to its workers.” In particular, with gas prices topping $4 a gallon this summer, more than a quarter of workers (25.7%) are already choosing alternatives to driving into work – such as carpooling or public transportation; 35.9% were between the ages of 18 and 29, with more females (32%) than males (23.1%) conserving.
For more on attitudes please see:
- Changing Social Attitudes About Debt - February 25, 2008
- Moral Obligations Of Walking Away - February 7, 2008
- Attitudes Lead, The CPI Lags - March 19th, 2008
- Cool to Be Frugal - April 24, 2008
Secular Attitude Change Underway
There is a secular attitude change happening right now. Boomers close to retirement are now (finally) scared to death as the equity in their houses has been vaporized. School age children are seeing homes foreclosed, and families destroyed over debt. The American consumer, who nearly everyone thinks will be back as soon as the economy picks up are mistaken.
Secular shifts like these come once in a lifetime. Sadly it's too late for many cash strapped boomers counting on equity in their houses for retirement.
Lessons Of The Great Depression Forgotten
The lessons of their great grandfathers who lived in the great depression era were forgotten. Over time, everyone learned to ignore the dangers of debt, risk, and leverage. Belief in the Fed and the government to bail out any problem are ingrained. Bank failures are distant memories.
Anyone and everyone who wanted credit got it, and on the easiest of terms: subprime, pay option arms, reckless leverage, and covenant lite debt and toggle bonds that allowed debt to be paid back with more debt. That's what it takes to hit a peak.
Peak credit has been reached. That final wave of consumer recklessness created the exact conditions required for its own destruction. The housing bubble orgy was the last hurrah. It is not coming back and there will be no bigger bubble to replace it. Consumers and banks have both been burnt, and attitudes have changed.
It took nearly 80 years for people to get as reckless as they did in 1929. 80 years! Few are still alive that went through the great depression. No one listened to them. That is the nature of the game. The odds of a significant bout of inflation now are about the same as they were in 1929. Next to none.
Children whose parents are being destroyed by debt now, will keep those memories for a long time.
Deflation Is Here
If you don't know what inflation is, or if you think it is about prices (it's not, and it's not about a falling or rising dollar either) then please read Inflation: What the heck is it? and Interview With Kasriel.
Right now, China, India, Brazil and other countries are on a different credit cycle than the US. Growth in China is providing huge strength in the commodities sector. In addition, horrid economic policies in the US are weakening the dollar.
Those two factors are causing those who don't know what inflation is to scream inflation or stagflation. The real wackos are screaming hyperinflation. They are all mistaken. We are in deflation now. Most do not see it because they do not know what it is.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock
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