A lethal epidemic is a factor the struggling economy could have done without. In this very early stage, though, swine flu has yet to exert much effect on U.S. consumers' behavior, according to a Gallup poll conducted earlier this week.
The survey asked adults whether they'd done a number of things "yesterday because of a concern about swine flu." While 22 percent said they'd "worried about getting swine flu," just 3 percent said they'd "decided not to go out shopping or to a restaurant" because of this.
The same percentage said they'd "shopped online or by phone for something you would normally purchase at a store" or "decided not to use mass transit, such as bus, subway or train." One percent reported canceling or postponing an airline trip they'd scheduled, matching the proportion of employed respondents who'd stayed home from work due to fear of the flu.
In a breakdown of the findings by age group, the 18-34-year-olds were the most likely to say they'd worried the previous day about getting swine flu, with 27 percent saying they'd done so. The figure declined to 24 percent among the 35-54-year-olds and to 16 percent among those 55 and older. Respondents with minor children in the household were more likely than those without kids to say they'd worried (26 percent vs. 19 percent).
While noting that the number of Hispanic respondents in the survey sample was too small to yield reliable results for that cohort, Gallup did say "the data suggest that Hispanics are considerably more likely than non-Hispanics to worry about getting swine flu."