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The Nielsen Company has released a new survey saying that 86 percent of US consumers believe that the nation is currently in a recession and that 54 percent think it will last longer than 12 months. Just 18 percent of those questioned said that they thought the recession would be over within a year, with the greatest pessimism expressed by people between the ages of 25 and 29 years of age – presumably young enough that they may not remember previous recessions.

However, people with better memories aren’t much more optimistic, with only seven percent of consumers age 65 and over believe the recession will be over within the year, and 63 percent of consumers in this age range saying they don’t believe the recession will be over within 12 months.

Other interesting revelations from the survey:

• More women (91 percent) than men (82 percent) feel the US economy is in recession. Men were markedly more optimistic than women about the recession’s end, with 27 percent of males responding affirmatively, compared to only 11 percent of females. When asked about the state of their own personal finances over the next 12 months, 39 percent of females responded “not so good” compared to 28 percent of males. Only 16 percent of women surveyed think their job prospects over the next 12 months will be good, compared to 26 percent of men.

• Thirty eight percent of U.S. consumers consider the economy their biggest concern over the next six months, with older Americans even more worried - - 48 percent of consumers age 50–54 and 52 percent of those age 55–59 cited the economy as their greatest concern.

• Increasing fuel prices came in a distant second place at 10 percent, followed by debt (nine percent), increasing utility bills (seven percent), increasing food prices (five percent) and job security (five percent).

KC's View:
Not to be overly cynical about this, but who the hell are the people who think we’re not in a recession?

Even if one’s personal finances haven't been hit by current circumstances – and how many people who used to have 401K programs have seen them reduced to 1K – you'd have to be living in a cave not to be aware of what’s going on in the world.

If indeed women remain the primary food shoppers in the family, their greater level of concern about the economy has to be worrisome to food retailers, who are going to have to define compelling messages to communicate to these consumers.