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67% Optimistic, Gallup Poll Finds : Public's Faith in Economy Rebounds

December 17, 1987|Special to The Times

PRINCETON, N.J. — After sinking dramatically in the wake of the Oct. 19 stock market crash, confidence that the American economy will remain robust has rebounded remarkably to nearly the pre-crash level, according to a new survey by the Gallup Poll.

Although a growing number of economists predict economic trouble in the coming months as a result of several factors, including the crash, 67% of the public believes that the recovery will continue at least until late next year.

Anxieties spurred by the crash have largely dissipated, the survey found. Soon after the plunge, a Gallup survey found that the percentage believing that the recovery would continue at least until late next year had dropped to 53% from 71% last June. The jump back to 67% suggests that for large portions of the public the crash has had little dampening effect.

Forecasts of recession taking hold in the waning days of 1987 and the early months of 1988 are more often heard from people living in the West (54%), college graduates (53%), those who disapprove of President Reagan's handling of his job (53%) and people age 50 or older (49%).

Here is the question asked and the findings in table form:

"The economy is now in its sixth year of recovery from the recession of 1981-82. Of course, no one knows for sure, but what is your best guess about how long this recovery will last before the economy turns down again? Will the recovery end this year, early next year, late next year, or later than that?"

The findings are based on personal interviews with 1,009 people, 18 and older, in localities across the nation Dec. 4-6. For results based on samples of this size, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling and other random effects could be 4 percentage points in either direction.

Following is the trend, with some response categories combined:

When Will Recovery End?

This Next Later/ No op- year year Never inion % % % % 1987-Dec. 4-6 7 37 44 12 -Oct. 23-26 17 31 36 16 -June 6 31 50 13 1986-Sept. 7 32 46 15 -March 7 25 58 10 1985-Aug. 5 27 54 14 1984-May 11 36 37 16 1983-Sept. 6 32 43 19

Following are the detailed 1987 findings:

When Will Recovery End?

Dec. Oct. June % % % This year 7 17 6 Early next year 14 14 10 Late next year 23 17 21 Later than that 42 33 49 Never 2 3 1 No opinion 12 16 13

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