July 16, 2009

Americans Turn To The Net For Support During Recession

The current recession has lead many American's to turn to the Internet for support and financial advice, Reuters reported.

A study released on Wednesday showed that over two-thirds of American adults -- or 88 percent of U.S. Internet users -- went online for help with recession-induced personal economic issues and to gather information on national economic problems.

The Pew Internet & American Life Project said the Internet ranks high among sources of information and advice that people are seeking during hard times, especially when it comes to their personal finances and jobs.

Lee Rainie, director of the nonprofit group and co-author of the report, said people are anxious about these hard times and are more information-hungry than in normal times.

Rainie pointed out that 79 percent of Americans were Internet users.

While many experts say that the current recession may be the worst since the Great Depression of the 1930s, it is still unique in that people have such widespread access to the World Wide Web.

A recent study based on interviews with 2,253 adults showed that some 52 percent of Americans have either lost their jobs, seen their investments fall by more than half their value, suffered a pay cut or watched their house lose half its value over the past year.

In June, overall U.S. employers cut far more jobs than expected and the unemployment rate hit an astounding 9.5 percent"”a 26-year high.

But the study found that creativity has been flowing online during these hard times, as 34 percent of online economic users have created content and commentary about the recession in places like blogs, social network sites and Twitter.

Rainie said a large number of those people are exploiting the Internet to participate in the roiling online discussion about how we got into this mess and how we are going to get out of it.

The study said the Internet was the top source for material on personal coping strategies during the recession, but broadcast media outpaced the Internet as sources of news about national economic affairs.

"It's a mistake to think people are using only the Internet. They are networking and using multiple sources, including human sources," Rainie said.

According to the study, the top three recession-related activities of these users were price comparisons, a general understanding or grasp of the economic downturn and new jobs.

However, around 3 percent these surfers used the Internet to seek out information about filing for bankruptcy.


On the Net: