March 17th, 2009
06:00 AM ET
14 years ago

Poll: More Americans fear a return of the Great Depression

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The number of Americans who think another Great Depression will occur within the next year is on the rise, a poll released Tuesday shows.

Forty-five percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey said another depression is likely.

"Will the Great Recession turn into another Great Depression? A growing number of Americans think it might," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

"Last December, 38 percent said a depression like the one the U.S. experienced in the 1930s was likely in the next year. Now that number is up 7 points."

But Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke doesn't share that sentiment. Asked during an interview with CBS on Sunday whether the country is headed into a new depression, Bernanke said, "I think we've averted that risk. I think we've gotten past that."

Listen: CNN Director of Polling Keating Holland and CNN's John Lisk reveal what Americans think about the 'Great Recession' and the president's economic recovery plan.

The poll described the 1930s' Great Depression as a time in which roughly one out of four workers was unemployed, banks failed across the country and millions of ordinary Americans were temporarily homeless or unable to feed their families.

Nearly nine out of ten people questioned in the survey said economic conditions in the country are poor today, with only 11 percent suggesting that conditions are good.

And the poll indicates that Americans think it will take time to rebound from the recession, which began at the end of 2007.

"Only one in ten say recovery is likely within a year; one in five predict it will take longer than four years for the country to get back on its feet," Holland said.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted Thursday through Sunday, with 1,019 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Filed under: Economy • Poll
soundoff (99 Responses)
  1. independent in CO

    You don't think? We are headed for much worse thanks to reckless spending by the government. Politicians think they can save us but they are only making things worse.

    Government didn't make this country great. The people did!

    March 17, 2009 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  2. SHIRLEY "60"

    You obviously are not reading the voting on your home page today.
    The majority of us don't believe there will be a depression, and will continue to believe that there will be an improvement within the year.

    March 17, 2009 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  3. Shooky

    Oh, so THIS is that "change" we've been told about. Obama is going to CHANGE a recession into a depression!

    March 17, 2009 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  4. Ray Fisher

    I agree with Bernanke, we have gotten past the worst of this event and are on the road to recovery. April 1, will begin the road back to prosperity if we can ever get the banks reregulated!!! Geithner has been a dissappointment with his slow reactions and lack of openesss with details.

    March 17, 2009 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  5. Ray Fisher

    I agree with Bernanke, we have gotten past the worst of this event and are on the road to recovery. April 1, will begin the road back to prosperity if we can ever get the banks reregulated!!! Geithner has been a dissappointment with his slow reactions and lack of openesss with details.

    March 17, 2009 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  6. Rob

    And Obama, Pelosi, & Reid are leading the way. Of course they're all taken care of, but screw the American people.

    March 17, 2009 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  7. Fred

    That is a possibility, depending on what happens with this new administration. If they try and ram Cap and Trade legislation through this year, essentially imposing a carbon tax on all Americans, expect the depression to follow rapidly.

    March 17, 2009 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  8. Baze

    This pool just in:

    Americans love drama, and will always over exacerbate every issue that the media feeds them.

    March 17, 2009 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  9. Terri

    Because they are the party of "No." Everything they are trying to do to President Obama will backfire on them. Whether you believe in religion or not, there are a lot of people praying for President Obama to succeeed. My bible tells me that the prayers of the righetous availeth much.

    The sad part about this is, they won't even listen to their party members because they are so bent on seeing our president fail.

    March 17, 2009 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  10. katiec

    And, unless the republicans start doing the jobs they were elected to do we will be facing another Repubican Great Depression.
    There must be unification among our politicians for the survival of our country, but the republicans continue to put party first and their hypocritical actions. They are more worried about trying to get re-elected than all the crisises that face our country. They offer no workable solutions, obstructing any ideas that are presented.

    March 17, 2009 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  11. Bob in Pa

    Fear a Depression ? A depression we can recover from, forced servitude we cannot. Take a very close look at HR1388 that is hitting the floor today. Can you say comrade ?

    March 17, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  12. Realistic in NYC

    There is a silver lining to the dark economic cloud we are facing, and that is that we as Americans are looking more at what's important right now more than ever.

    In a way, this crisis it's a blessing because it is making us re-evaluate the old ways of ethics and values. With technology and quick food, in a lot of ways, the existing generations have lost sight of the value of a dollar.

    We are rediscovering that self-sufficiency is key to quality of life. Having your own garden means that you and your children have fresh food to put on the table- you don't need to be rich to do that or to buy seeds. Clipping coupons means you are saving money-before this crisis, clipping coupons was not popular until now. every penny counts.

    March 17, 2009 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  13. Rick CT

    Understandable with all the news about out of control spending, abusive bonuses from AIG, foreclosures, and until recently, the fear (rather than hope) expressed by our new President. I happen to agree with Bernanke.

    As much as the AIG bonuses were unconscionable, it's hard to sympathize with the outrage of Obama, who himself, just broke over 8,000 campaign promises by signing a spending bill with over $8 billion in wasteful earmarks. That's over 45 times the waste just seen at AIG. 45 times the waste to us taxpayers.

    But then again, nothing has changed. Like all other politicians, Obama will vent at easy targets that we can all abhor, while brushing off the larger and tougher stuff because of the potential cost to him.

    March 17, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  14. John

    I actually think we're kind of turning things around. Maybe its Spring being in the air, but I'm feeling kinda optimistic.

    March 17, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  15. sensible Cape Coral FL

    I went through the Great Depression so I know how to DO POOR.
    In one way I feel sort of sorry for the present generation who have no idea what it is to do without something they WANT – not need.

    March 17, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  16. fearful for my country

    Obama's spending money like he's got it. A lot of young AA's do that and wend up broke and with ruined credit. Hence the bad mortgages etc. Now our country is going to pay the price of handing our purse strings over to yet another ambitious AA with no self control.

    March 17, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  17. FreeNLovingIt

    If we do it right and we propel ourselves and free ourselves from holding on to oil tanks and use innovation and creativity, there WILL be no depression. Stop fearing and live for FREEDOM!! Think innovation. Dont look back.!!

    March 17, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  18. The lonely Libertarian of Liverpool

    next year 2009/2010? No we will have a continued weakness with continued jobs loses, the real big storm is the national Debt interest due in 3rd quarter 2011 and 2012, if we can not pay this debt off, and I mean the entire debt of what is nearly 60 trillion dollars.
    The increased tax burden will will break us for several generations going forward.

    March 17, 2009 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  19. spring

    While most of us are adding more water to our RAMEN NOODLES, AIG is giving our money to their millionaire employees FOR BONUSES, if this kind of behavior dosn't stop, I don't see how we can avoid a GREAT DEPRESSION.

    March 17, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  20. Laughing

    I don't fear it.. For many of us hope ran out 8 years ago. For many of us this has been going on over the past 8 years, the only difference is we then had a President that only cared for the rich, that only cared for himself. Now we have our hope back, yet daily the Republican party continues to try to put that hope out. It's sad that they claim to love American and Americans but yet only want for their own greed. They can't even put it aside for a moment. Their own pockets is all they care about and that has become clear.

    March 17, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  21. sorry,I dont get paid to post

    Did you think anyone was going to say yes we will have a great depression?The right wing loons want us to have one, so they can try to tell us "we told you so".Cheney wants us to get hit again so he can say he was right,these people are a sad bunch my friends.

    March 17, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  22. RaneyOnline

    The first step is to resolve the housing crisis. The feds need to buy back back mortages from banks and alow the anks to go about their business. The feds can then re-finance these loans to help people save their homes. Once people are confident they will keep their homes they will spend more and the banks should be free to loan more money. The rest of the economy will again fill safe to carry on once the American consumer goes back to spending at the malls and on Main Street accross the nation.

    March 17, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  23. david

    I think the country is already in an economic depression but it will be a mild one not like the 1930's. We will bottom out late this year or the early part of next year but remain there for a couple of years regardless of what the government does. The jobs that the government will create are temporay and will go away eventually. If the private sector job picture hasn't improved we will be back into the mess we are currently experiencing. Hopefully circumstances will prove me wrong.

    March 17, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  24. Neutralizer

    Somehow that fear is quite obvious, every person I've talked to even strangers are now saying we're in depression. There's an increasing number of people dissatisfied with Obambi's economic policies; the biggest group that is now doubting his power to lead this country are young people who are the first to lose their jobs that supported him last year.

    When I listen to college students who voted and campaigned for Obambi, you hear remorse.

    Young people of this country learned the hard way, to never be fooled again by rhetorics but to look at experience next time they cast their vote.

    March 17, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
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