The survey uncovered core attitudes and beliefs about the American economy, the government’s role therein, and the potential impacts of a changing American population. Specifically, the survey focused on measuring how Americans of different ethnic and racial backgrounds viewed these issues.
Though the housing crisis has damaged the net worth of families, Americans believe this downturn is temporary. There is strong agreement that home ownership remains a fundamental goal in achieving the American Dream.
Globally, there are concerns about how the US compares to other countries in terms of pro-growth policies and cooperation between business and government. The American manufacturing sector is seen as a fundamental aspect of the economy yet is threatened by continued outsourcing of jobs to countries with lower wage workers.
As mentioned in a National Journal Feature Article, this survey found that Americans are even less optimistic about the state of the economy and direction of the country than they were earlier this year. Americans are feeling the pain of a lengthy economic downturn and are looking for leaders to strive toward a common objective of making our country work for all citizens.
The financial obstacles faced by this generation are evident in the fact that many Millennials say that, while they can get by each month, they find it difficult to save and invest. Debt is a significant burden for many. According to the survey, the average debt load for Millennials is approximately $21,900. In order to get by, 39% of Millennials receive regular financial assistance from their parents, and 33% currently live at home with their parents. Above all, Millennials believe in the importance of achieving a stable career and making smart financial choices.
As discussed in a National Journal Feature Article, this survey found that Americans are looking forward to a fresh start with a sense of hope in the New Year but that sense of optimism is tempered by personal experience and persistent economic challenges. The survey examined the public policies of the Obama administration and their affects on the middle class. Finally, Heartland IV probed the financial literacy challenges and needs of Americans.
Consistent with the first two Heartland polls, Americans still feel this recession is a game-changer, and the economy will be fundamentally different than the way it was before the recession. As illustrated in a National Journal Feature Article, the vast majority of Americans say they have lower levels of trust in major institutions perceived to be in power than they did one year ago, including investment banks, major corporations, national banks and elected officials in Washington D.C.
According to Heartland II, and as mentioned in a National Journal Feature Article, there is near unanimity that America is the Land of Opportunity, with two-thirds of respondents saying they were confident they would be able to improve their financial situations in the next five years. The survey showed that Americans view education and training as the best way to increase opportunities for themselves, though people are increasingly concerned about the cost of accessing those educational opportunities.
The poll also illustrated that 64 percent of Americans believe today’s economy presents more risks than their parents faced at the same age. Respondents were equally split on whether corporate leaders and businesses or political leaders and government would offer the best ideas and solutions, with both options garnering support from 40 percent of respondents.