Most Wealthy Americans Think US Is Still in Recession

Wealthier Americans aren't very optimistic about the economic recovery, with a surprising 63 percent saying the US is still in a recession, according to a new poll.

Some 55 percent think the economy won’t fully recover until 2013 or later, and 14 percent say the recession won’t end at all.

John Corwin | Photo Researchers | Getty Images

The results come from the January 2012 survey by Ipsos Mendelsohn Affluent Barometer, which studies the lifestyles, spending patterns and media habits of today’s affluent Americans. Ipsos defines affluent adults as those who have household income of $100,000 or more.

The overall outlook about the economy is split almost evenly. Forty-one percent of affluent Americans are pessimistic about the U.S. economy and 38 percent are optimistic, a statistical tie. However, this optimism is still up from fourth-quarter 2011 lows.

Survey respondents were also asked exclusive CNBC questions about private equity firms, which have been put into the spotlight during the U.S. presidential campaign because of Mitt Romney, who once ran Bain Capital.

Only 34 percent of the affluent are “very” or “somewhat” familiar with private equity firms; of those, 46 percent believe private equity firms affect the U.S. economy positively versus 19 percent negatively.

The breakdown of those who look at private equity firms favorably was significantly split on political party lines; 62 percent self-identified as Republicans and 27 percent as Democrats.

For those of affluence in households that make $250,000 or more, more individuals are familiar with private equity (49 percent), but they are still polarized when it comes to the way they feel about these firms: 41 percent of $250,000 households look at private equity positively, 10 percent negatively.

Some other interesting takeaways from the January 2012 Ipsos Affluent Barometer:

When it comes to investments, goldis still considered the best investment right now as compared to real estate, stocks and bonds. But survey respondents aren’t as bullish on gold going forward; only 17 percent say they intend to buy in the next 12 months.

Government spending is still a big issue. Nearly 80 percent are concerned about spending at the federal level.

Nearly two-thirds are optimistic about the companies they work for; 55 percent think corporate spending will remain unchanged for the time being.

The Affluent Barometer also indicates that discount-coupon useamong those who have household incomes of $100,000 or more is widespread. At least once per month, 71 percent use newspaper coupons, while 54 percent use online coupons. Nearly six out of ten also get digital “daily deals,” with Groupon being the most popular service.

Methodology: 1,048 respondents interviewed online. Conducted January 20-27, 2012. National sample of adults 18+ with HHI $100K+. Weighted and balanced to U.S. Census data.