January 27th, 2010
11:00 AM ET
13 years ago

CNN Poll: Most say worst economic conditions in a lifetime

Washington (CNN) - More than three-quarters of Americans said that the current economic conditions are the worst that they've ever lived through, according to a new national poll.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Wednesday, hours before President Obama delivers his first State of the Union address, indicated that 77 percent of the public feels that the rough economic times the country's currently facing are the worst in their lifetime, while 22 percent said they've lived through worse times.

According to the poll, the economy remains the number-one issue on the public's mind, and six in ten Americans said it is extremely important for the president and Congress to deal with the economy this year.

"That's one reason why Barack Obama's State of the Union speech is likely to focus on the economy," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "The belief that the economy is extremely important is the same among high-income Americans and low-income Americans. And income does not affect your view of economic conditions - high-income Americans are just as likely as low-income Americans to say that this is the worst economy they have ever lived through."

 Two-thirds of those questioned said that things are going badly in the country today, but that's an improvement over a year ago when 79 percent thought the country was in bad shape

"One bright spot: although most say that the country is in bad shape, three-quarters said things are going well in their personal lives," Holland added.

One in eight think the economy is starting to recover; nearly half think a recovery has not started but that things have stabilized and four in 10 said the country is still in a downturn.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted January 22-24, with 1,009 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

 - CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report


Filed under: CNN poll • Economy
soundoff (61 Responses)
  1. True

    These are the worst economic conditions and congress and the admin just seem to want to make them worse with this healthcare reform, talk of new taxes and further defecits,and with the totally wrong cap and trade bill. With all the ideas they are spouting about, they have all the companies afraid to do any hiring, expansions or anything else till they see what this bunch will come up with next.

    January 27, 2010 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  2. Chris

    Oh Please short of someone living during the Great Depression how could anyone make such a statement? The current economic changes we are going through were created by a number of circumstances. The emergence of the Global economy for one had a major impact on the economic conditions of today. Therefore for someone to make such statement it would need to be clarified a bit. It kills me how CNN can slant statements, I mean sometimes seeing some of these Tickers heading makes me wonder how unbias you guys really are or do you just want the shock tabloid news?

    January 27, 2010 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  3. Dave

    I would say this time and also when I was younger during the Carter years (oil crises) would be the times that stick out most to me.

    January 27, 2010 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  4. Anthony R. Seta

    ...More than three-quarters of Americans said that the current economic conditions are the worst that they've ever lived through....

    I don't dispute this premise, but my grandparents that lived through the great depression in Kentucky and southern Ohio would have to disagree. The current macro level economic conditions may be bad, but the amount of social services and medical and economic "welfare" that exists in current American society has certainly alleviated much of the horrific conditions that existed in the 1930s.

    I personally don't think that most Americans have an accurrate concept of how good it is here in the USA, even though economic conditions may not be so great. Spend some time in a developing nation. Observe basic conditions that exist in the street in regards to plumbing, electricity, poverty, etc... Then compare those conditions to modern USA. There really is no comparison.

    January 27, 2010 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  5. Kevin in Ohio

    Yes, they are..... and Obama just wants to make it worse by taxing us to death and continuing his spending spree. I'm retired, and see NO relief in sight....except for 2010 and 2012 elections which will rid us of the free-spending liberals.

    January 27, 2010 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  6. john in texas

    I remember the 70's being really bad. But I guess I am getting like Grandpa. Seems like we had double digit inflation AND double digit unemployment but you youngsters dont remember that do ya? It isnt any picnic now but it could be a lot worse.

    January 27, 2010 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  7. Jane/Seattle

    This IS NO Accident! Please Read: Naomi Klein's, "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise Of Disaster Capitalism". This book is for Everyone who wants to dig deep into the Whys, The Whens, The Hows, The Who's Who, And the Where of these Roots.

    President Obama clearly has not read it and he does not heed the warnings of those who Actually DO KNOW! Naomi Wolf, Thom Hartmann, Joseph Stiglitz, William Greider, Ravi Batra, Jeremy Scahill, John Perkins, Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky and a host of others. CNN: This book should be required reading for your staff! And all the other authors, too!

    January 27, 2010 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  8. Debby

    Well this is the people's fault for voting for in this empty suit. American people love baloney and they got it listening to Obama's campaign speech's. This guy was a community organizer he knows nothing about economics or even balancing a budget. At least most of the former Presidents were Governors so they had to run a state which included balancing a budget and keeping their economy going.

    January 27, 2010 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  9. annie s

    Agreed, agreed, agreed. Now can someone remind the voters who & what really caused this disaster....Reagonomics, Republican anti-regulation, tax cuts and war spending.

    January 27, 2010 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  10. SY

    No American should ever forget who caused the current economic mess either! Let's not be self-destructive and put them back in charge.

    January 27, 2010 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  11. rob

    How much time will he spend on Health Care in his speech? You know, the issue that he and the Dems spent the last half year trying to ram through with out support in the polls.

    January 27, 2010 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  12. Elmer

    Headline today shows how little all in Washington know about how job creation works: Sen. Casey Says Senate Jobs Bill to Contain One-Year Hiring Tax Credit

    This like all of the past 20 versions of jobs creation credits doesn't work. Companies hire employees when they both need the employees and have the resoucres to do so....the latter of these is when they see profits arising from the new employees services. This type of hype is as nonsensical as a spending freeze declaration. The solution is when, like in the last 6 years of the Clinton Admin, the government gets out of way and businesses can operate with certainty. And for those of you who want to counter this remark with some CEO blah blah or Wall Street blah blah or Republicans blah blah, you are part of the problem and not the solution. Businesses get the economy back on its feet....not the governemnt. The government has never created a job that added to an econocmic recovery, ever.

    January 27, 2010 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  13. chris tx

    People are delusional...

    Did people really think unregulated banking, unchecked bubbles, betting on failures, relying on limited energy supplies, building an economy on disposable products built on the backs of other nation's citizens, starting wars, exporting jobs, having more debt than savings, setting up entitlement programs on the backs of future generations and a number of other major things was sustainable?

    '08 was FAR worse than '09... this is a reality check/correction and we need to stick together and stop pointing fingers/causing division.

    January 27, 2010 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  14. JOE

    if your house was on fire which would you rather have...someone who trys to put out the fire or someone who sits by and says there is nothing i can do? the president never once said that the stimulus was going to create 10 mill. jobs or solve all of our economic problems. he has cautioned america that the road to recovery will be long and slow due to the severity of the problem. at least the guy is trying something to help. don't forget, it was not his dec. alone to try a stimulus package. alot of economist and politicans were advocating the same thing. if obama is gulity of anything it is that the stimulus package was not BIG enough. the truth is that even if the stimulus was larger the GOP would be carping about that. sadly, the GOP has no solutions to anything. the best they have is to whine, complain. i say to them, shut up and get out of the way . you guys had your turn now let someone else try something new.

    January 27, 2010 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  15. Alan

    This is definately the worst economy our family has ever lived through.

    While we have mired in this for over a year now, it is a shame that it has taken an election loss for our polititians to acknowledge that we are suffering.

    It makes you wonder how sincere they really are?

    January 27, 2010 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  16. diridi

    let alone this mess...even Horvard Grad do not have job...ok...they mean nothing...now a days...learn...and listen...duke, horward, yale, mean nothing...listen, and true...

    January 27, 2010 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  17. Love You President Obama

    Yes, these are the worst times, thanks to George W. 7th Worst President Ever Bush. President Obama is trying to change things and he has the dead weight of the Rethugs hounding him at every turn.

    Well, this loyalist is sticking with the president, and I will continue to support his efforts to get this country back on the right track.

    January 27, 2010 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  18. Fitz in Texas

    And we should be surprised, why? Look who's running things.

    January 27, 2010 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  19. Sarah

    I believe this is the worst economy crisis we have had to face, I didn't go through the great depression and I think that one was the worst for America......That is why it is very important that the Congress works together with this administration to try to fix it and put all politics aside and that the Republicans need to stop their efforts on trying to win elections and get to work with this administration, stop trying to push this president to FAIL .....I would expect the same from the Democrats if we had a Republican sitting President, it is time to stop the nonsence in Washington and get this economy back on track.....this recession is to blame on Bush and the GOP, now Obama has to fix it , but how can he if he gets NO NO NO from the other side.....Wake up people, 2012 is not only a new election but the predictions of DOOMSDAY.....at the rate we are going I think DOOMSDAY is fast on its way to the END........

    January 27, 2010 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  20. FM

    Remember the saying: When you break it, you own it"! The previous party in power, has caused all these. They were handed over everything intact (sounding economy), and they dismantled it beyond repair!

    January 27, 2010 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  21. Blake

    These people must be under 30. I'm 27 and even I know that this isn't the "worst economic conditions in a lifetime."

    What about the:

    Recession of 1982-83

    Recession of 1973-75 and the Oil Bust

    January 27, 2010 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  22. Librarian

    Yes and thank you Mr. Bush and everyone who voted for him and ignored the fact that his party and his policy were CRIMINALS.

    January 27, 2010 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  23. Carl from MI

    Thank you, Bush Administration!!!

    How soon we forget on who's watch our nation's economy was run directly into the ditch!!

    Remember that when voting this November when Republicans pretend to have memory loss and forget THEY are the party responsible to sending our nation's economy into a tailspin!

    January 27, 2010 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  24. WHAT PARTY HELD POWER FOR 8 YEARS AND RUINED THE ECONOMY? NOT THE DEMS

    Thanks to the Republicans and oh George Bushes 2 wars

    January 27, 2010 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  25. CONNIE

    All Obama has to say tonight in his state of the union is that "it is Bush's fault" and everyone will be happy about it. He doesn't have to take blame because he doesn't know how to take blame.

    January 27, 2010 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
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