For the Americans Actively Preparing for a Recession, Shoring Up Savings and Cutting Spending Are Their Main Strategies
As Americans navigate the continued threat of a recession, a new Morning Consult survey finds that 41% of U.S. adults have taken active steps to prepare for a downturn, with many saving and cutting spending while some have stockpiled supplies.
2 in 5 Adults Have Taken Steps to Prepare for a Recession, While an Equal Share Wishes They Could
Higher-income households more likely to have already taken steps to gird for an economic downturn
- Adults with annual household incomes over $100,000 were most likely to say they have taken steps to prepare for a recession or economic downturn (52%).
- Those in households making less than $50,000 were most likely to say they haven’t done any preparations but wish they could (48%).
- Nearly half of adults (46%) said they believe the United States is already in a recession, while 22% said the country isn’t currently in one but will be in the next year.
Saving and Spending Goals Lead Recession Preparations
Those who wish they could prepare would focus more on saving up, but less on cutting back
- Adults who wish they could prepare for a recession were less likely than those who have already taken steps to say cutting back was an option they would pursue (10% to 39%).
- Active and would-be preparers with lower household incomes were most likely to indicate in the open-ended response portion of the survey that they were interested in “prepping” behaviors like stockpiling food or supplies. Among those who shared that they had taken or wished to take part in stockpiling or prepping activities, 64% had household incomes under $50,000 a year, 27% had annual incomes of $50,000 to $100,000 and 9% had household incomes over $100,000.
- Responses in the “other” category included a variety of strategies, such as making changes to investment portfolios, investing more in assets such as gold or real estate and paying down debt.
Public braces for supply issues, leaner times
While saving and budgeting were among the top tasks that would-be preparers hoped to undertake, some respondents also wished to become “preppers” by stockpiling food, purchasing a generator or gardening more. A baby boomer in a household making less than $50,000 a year said he wished he could “stockpile nonperishable food items as well as essential items in the event of shortages and supply issues.”
A few respondents who have prepared for a downturn were unwilling to share what steps they’d taken, even offering a hint of paranoia: a Gen X woman said she was “not gonna share that info. You never know if big brother is watching,” while another Gen X woman said, “let’s just say we’ve taken steps.”
And other respondents’ answers portrayed an overall belt-tightening. A baby boomer woman in a middle-income household said they were working with a financial adviser and were “committed to a tight budget, spending money only on what’s absolutely needed. No major purchases, nothing frivolous.”
For some, changes were smaller, like one millennial male in a household making more than $100,000 a year who said he had “stopped buying desserts.”
The Feb. 16-19, 2023, survey was conducted among a representative sample of 2,203 U.S. adults, with an unweighted margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.
Amanda Jacobson Snyder is a data reporter at Morning Consult covering finance. @AJacobsonSnyder