September 24, 2010

One Recession, Two Americas

The Defining Characteristics

Eight questions were used in the cluster analysis. The questions consisted of two types. Some were overall measures of how individuals fared during the recession, including whether or not the recession forced them to make “major” changes in their lives; whether their family income increased, decreased or stayed about the same; and whether their family’s overall financial condition is better or worse now than before the recession. Other questions measured whether people personally suffered a spell of unemployment during the recession, had trouble paying their rent or mortgage, had problems getting or paying for medical care, had to borrow money from family or friends to pay bills, or withdrew money from savings or retirement accounts to pay expenses. The bullet points below summarizes the key differences between the two cluster groups on these core questions.

Holding their Own (45% of all adults)

Lost Ground (55% of all adults)

About the Survey

Results for this survey are based on telephone interviews conducted with a nationally representative sample of 2,967 people ages 18 and older living in the continental United States. A combination of landline and cellular random digit dial (RDD) samples was used to represent all adults in the continental United States who have access to either a landline or cellular telephone. A total of 1,893 interviews were completed with respondents contacted by landline telephone and 1,074 with those contacted on their cell phone. The data are weighted to produce a final sample that is representative of the general population of adults in the continental United States.