Do Americans feel prepared to cope with an economic depression?

Hoang NguyenData Journalist
August 04, 2020, 12:01 PM UTC

The United States economy shrank 9.5 percent from April to June and is projected to shrink 32.9 percent annually, according to a second quarter report from the Commerce Department. These figures uncover the economic toll of the coronavirus pandemic, especially the strain brought on by millions being unemployed, businesses shutting down, and consumers spending less than they typically would. 
 
Some economists signal the end of a pandemic-induced recession but warn that a depression-like crisis may be coming, especially with the number of Americans filing for unemployment increasing to 1.43 million in the last week of July. If a depression were to occur right now, nearly half of Americans (49%) say they feel personally prepared to shoulder one, according to a YouGov poll conducted July 30-31, 2020. But a large share of Americans—40 percent—say they are personally not prepared to handle an economic depression. 
 
In terms of preparedness, Americans aged 55 and over are the only age group where over 50 percent are confident they can withstand an economic depression (56%). On the other hand, young Americans aged 18 to 24 stand out as being the only group where more say they are not prepared (44%) than say they are prepared (33%) to shoulder the economic burden of a depression. 
People appear to be more pessimistic about the government’s ability to cope with an economic depression than about their own personal finances. When asked in a separate poll about how prepared the government is to handle a depression, Americans are twice as likely to say it is not prepared (61%) than say it is prepared (30%).  
 
Opinions on this issue appear to be subject to partisanship. Republicans are optimistic that the government is prepared for a depression (55%), a sentiment that only 20 percent of Democrats and 27 percent of Independents echo. Democrats (73%) and Independents (64%) are much more likely to say the government is not prepared to cope with an economic depression. 
See the results from the economic depression surveys regarding personal preparedness and government preparedness  
 
Image: Getty