Thought Leadership


Recession impact: Has your EHS program been “devastated”? “No effect”?

August 13, 2009

A new John Zogby poll finds one-third of U.S. adults describe being seriously impacted by the current recession, including 14 percent who say their households have been "devastated." Also, only 41 percent of all adults expect their household financial situations to return to pre-recession conditions.

What about you personally, and your safety and health program?

How would you describe the recession’s impact? No impact at all? Somewhat? Seriously affected? Devastated?

Do you see your EHS staffing and/or funding levels returning to pre-2009 levels? Ever?

Or has it been forever changed?

If so, how do you describe the changes?

“The Future of EHS” is directly affected by how pros answer these questions. Take a moment to comment and respond to this post.

These poll findings come from a Zogby Interactive survey of 41,175 adults conducted from July 2-27, 2009. The margin of error is +/- 0.5%.

More results:

Adults with lower household incomes reported being harder hit by the recession, as one half of those with household incomes below $25,000 chose the two highest levels of financial devastation; and that percentage gradually declines as incomes rise. However, 21% of adults with family incomes above $250,000 reported a "four" or "five" on our scale.

As for party affiliation, Republicans were most likely to indicate the highest levels of impact. Here are the percentages from both major parties and Independents who chose either a "four" or "five" on our devastation scale:

  • Republicans 40%,
  • Independents 36%
  • Democrats 28%


The percentages of those answering yes to the question “Expect personal financials to return to pre-recession status” increases with household income. Age is also a significant variable, as optimism declines steadily from the youngest to oldest age groups. For example, 55% of First GlobalsTM (ages 18-29) believe they will fully recover, compared to just 27% of Privates (age 65 and older).

As in the other question, party affiliation is a significant factor. Here are the percentages by party that believed their financial circumstances would go back to pre-recession status.

  • Democrats 51%
  • Republicans 33%
  • Independents 40%.


"When more than a third of adults say the recession has devastated or nearly devastated them financially, you know that this has indeed been the nation's most serious period of hardship since the Great Depression, says pollster Zogby.

“There is also not much optimism that people will ever recoup their losses. It's also striking how much party affiliation even impacts perceptions about personal finances, showing that we remain a highly polarized nation."

Do you share that pessimism? Or do you foresee a return to the old days?
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