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RISMEDIA, April 13, 2009-The current economic crisis has caused many companies worldwide to make changes in the benefits they offer their employees, such as cutting bonuses, pensions, 401(k) matches or salary increases. But what happens when the economic crisis is over – will these companies reinstate these benefits or not? At the moment, only a minority of Americans believe these benefits will be reinstated. These are some of the findings of The Harris Poll, a new nationwide survey of 2,280 U.S. adults surveyed online between March 24 and 26, 2009 by Harris Interactive.

Specifically, Americans believe:

-Just over one-third of adults (36%) believe that companies will reinstate annual salary increases that match or exceed inflation if they were cut while 23% say they will not and 41% are not sure;
-Only one-third (32%) of Americans say companies will reinstate pensions if they were cut while one-quarter (25%) say they will not and 43% are not sure;
-When it comes to bonuses that were cut, one-third (32%) of adults believe they will be reinstated while 27% believe they will not be reinstated and 41% say they are not sure; and,
-Only three in ten (30%) Americans believe that the 50% match on the first 6% an employee contributes to their 401(k) plan will be reinstated if they were cut while 23% say they will not be reinstated and just under half (47%) are not sure.

Certain groups are more likely to believe these cuts will be reinstated than others. For example, regionally, those in the Midwest are optimists as they are more likely to believe all four of these benefits will be reinstated than people in other areas of the country. Men are also more likely than women to believe companies will reinstate annual salary increases (41% vs. 32%), bonuses (37% vs. 27%) and the 50% match on 401(k) contributions (32% vs. 28%).

Entrepreneurial Considerations
As more and more people struggle economically or are laid off from jobs, there are a small number who may be considering plans to start their own businesses. Among those who are currently employed or are looking for work, almost one in ten (9%) say they have started or currently run their own business and 6% say they have begun making plans to start their own business. Thirty-seven percent of those employed or looking for work have considered starting their own business in the past or recently, but have not done so, and about half (48%) have never considered starting their own business.

“Overall, there is a great deal of uncertainty about how companies will behave in the future. Large pluralities of Americans are uncertain if businesses will reinstate any of the cuts in salaries and benefits made in the wake of the economic crisis,” says Howard Lax, senior vice president, Financial Services Research Group, Harris Interactive. “There is a ray of hope, however, in that one-third of respondents are optimists expecting cuts to be reversed, outnumbering the one-quarter of pessimists who think the cuts will be permanent.”

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between March 24 and 26, 2009 among 2,280 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.

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