Economy Drives Americans Online

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More than half (69%) of adult Americans have gone online to get help with personal economic issues and to gather information about national economic problems, according to a new report by the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

Some 52 percent of Americans have had to cope with a major economic loss during the recession including 35 percent who have seen their investments lose more than half their value.

Much of the report focuses on a subpopulation the Project calls "online economic users." They are the 88 percent of online Americans who have used the Internet for financial related purposes. Over all, 34 percent of online economic users have created content and commentary about the recession in places like blogs, social network sites and Twitter.

"Internet users are on a dual quest in this recession" said Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project, and co-author of a new report.

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"They are seeking highly practical advice about how to survive. And they are going online to gain understanding of what went wrong, and what policies might fix the economy. In many cases, the internet is also a pathway to contributing ideas – and rants – about hard times and a source of expert commentary."

Here are the main recession-related activities of online economic users in the past year:

Price comparisons: 67% of online economic users have used the internet to find the lowest price available for something they need to buy.

General understanding: 52% of online economic users have used the internet to help them comprehend the nation’s economic problems.

New jobs: 41% of online economic users have sought information in the past year about jobs that might be available. 

Seeking online coupons for savings: 40% of online economic users searched on the internet for cost-saving coupons.

Help in spending less on everyday items: 27% of online economic users have used the internet to get material on the cost of everyday purchases.

Earning more money and second jobs: 27% of online economic users have been online hunting for tips about ways to earn more money or exploring the prospects for getting a second job.

Advice about protecting personal finances: 25% of online economic users have gone online seeking information about ways to protect their finances in a difficult economy.

Improving skills for a better job: 25% of online economic users have used the internet to seek material about how to improve their skills to qualify for better jobs.

Sell personal items online: 23% of online economic users have used auction sites or classified ad sites to sell personal items to raise money.

Unemployment benefits: 22% of online economic users sought material online about unemployment and other government benefits.

The value of my house: 18% of online economic users have used the internet to check up on the value of their house.

 Rankings or reviews of financial companies and professionals: 17% of online economic users went online to check reviews of financial firms and professionals.

Information about getting a loan: 13% of online economic users went online to check out ways to get loans.

Filing for bankruptcy: 3% of online economic users used the internet to look for information about filing for bankruptcy.

Economy Drives Americans Online
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