Consumers skeptical of deregulation

Americans, according to a recent survey, believe three key industries have benefited from deregulation - but that individual consumers have not. In its annual overview of the nation's business climate, Opinion Research Corporation (ORC), associated with Arthur D. Little Inc., reports little improvement in public sentiment about large businesses. This lack of confidence shows up in public skepticism toward the effects of deregulation in the telephone, airline, and banking industries.

Most of the public - 85 percent in the telephone industry and 54 percent in banking - believes that average consumer costs stay the same or decrease as a result of deregulation. Some 55 percent of the public believe that prices in the airline industry have stayed the same, while 37 percent feel that airline prices are lower.

Overall, 45 percent of the public surveyed by ORC agree that ''deregulation has not been beneficial,'' compared with 44 percent who believe it has. ''This is not a favorable picture for the business community,'' says Dr. Shel Feldman, managing director of ORC's Public Opinion Index. ''Many who already subscribe to the negative stereotypes of big business have found reinforcement in what they perceive as the negative effects of deregulation. Clearly, the path to further deregulation has by no means been smoothed.''

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