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Caught In The Web:Recession-hit Americans Go Online

by Thilaka Ravi on July 17, 2009 at 12:50 PM
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Caught In The Web:Recession-hit Americans Go Online

More than fifty percent of adult Americans have been hard hit by the recession and two-thirds have turned to the Web for help in coping and understanding the downturn, a survey published Wednesday found.

The Pew Internet and American Life Project said that 52 percent of American adults have suffered a major economic loss during the recession including 35 percent who have seen their investments lose more than half their value.


Twenty-seven percent who are employed full- or part time have had their pay cut, their hours reduced or lost benefits, the survey found, while 20 percent of homeowners have seen the value of their home reduced by at least half.

Fourteen percent have been laid off or lost their jobs.

The survey found that 69 percent of all American adults have gone online looking for help with personal economic issues and to gather information about the recession.

"Internet users are on a dual quest in this recession" said Lee Rainie, director of the Washington-based Pew Internet and American Life Project and co-author of the report, "The Internet and the Recession."

"They are seeking highly practical advice about how to survive," he said. "And they are going online to gain understanding of what went wrong, and what policies might fix the economy.

"In many cases, the Internet is also a pathway to contributing ideas -- and rants -- about hard times and a source of expert commentary," Rainie said.

Among so-called "online economic users," 67 percent have used the Internet to find the lowest price available for something they need to buy, Pew said.

Fifty-two percent have used the Web to help understand the economic problems while 41 percent have sought information about new jobs, it said.

Forty percent have gone online looking for cost-saving coupons while 27 percent have gone searching for tips on ways to earn more money or explore prospects for a second job.

Twenty-five percent of online economic users have turned to the Web seeking information about ways to protect their finances.

Twenty-three percent have used auction sites or classified ad sites to sell personal items to raise money, while 22 percent have sought material online about unemployment and other government benefits.

Eighteen percent have gone online to check on the value of their home and 13 percent have turned to the Web to check out ways to get loans.

Three percent of online economic users have used the Internet to look for information about filing for bankruptcy.

Pew said Americans were not solely turning to the Web to cope with the downturn.

"The average American is using two-to-three sources of information to make sense of what is happening and plan personal coping strategies," the report said.

"They talk to people, seek updates from media sources like newspapers and broadcast media, and actively search for insights that will help them explain what has happened to the economy and how they might adjust to those changes," it said.

The phone survey of 2,253 adults was conducted between March 26 and April 19 and has a margin of error of plus or minus two percentage points.

Source: AFP

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