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4 in 10 Americans feel unprepared for a recession: poll

New survey shows many consumers fear falling behind on their credit card bills in the COVID-era economy


The coronavirus pandemic has triggered a new recession, and a new survey conducted in mid-April reveals many Americans aren’t confident they’ll be able to cover their bills.

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With the coronavirus pandemic wearing on, the possibility of a prolonged U.S. economic recession is looming large for Americans. And a new poll shows many aren’t confident they’ll be able to cover their bills.

In mid-April, YouGov surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. adults on their expectations of a coming recession and found that about 4 in 10 Americans expected a recession to hit within six months (39%). And earlier this month, the National Bureau of Economic Research declared the nation’s 128-month economic expansion peaked in February.

When asked whether they feel personally prepared for that possibility, almost half of respondents (47%) said they felt very or somewhat prepared, while 41% reported being not very or not at all prepared.

Responses varied significantly across generations, with older Americans feeling more prepared (77% of the Silent Generation and 55% of baby boomers), while a larger share of millennial and Gen X adults reported feeling unprepared (47% each).

Similarly, their confidence in being able to keep up with credit card bills in the case of a U.S. recession increases with age. More than a third (34%) of millennial respondents, ages 21-38, said they expect trouble making their card payments if we enter a recession, while about a quarter (24%) of Generation X, ages 39-55, predict difficulty with credit card bills.

See related: Poll: 23% of consumers added to their credit card debt in the pandemic

Only 19% of baby boomers (ages 56-74) thought credit card payments would be problematic during an upcoming recession, as did just 7% of those in the silent generation (ages 75-92).

YouGov’s survey was conducted online in mid-April among 1,222 U.S. adults ages 18 or older, including 905 who have credit card balances. After weighing the results to reflect U.S. population demographics, YouGov’s findings were released April 22.

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