During the inception of the Heartland Monitor Poll in 2009, the country was in the midst of an economic recession, the middle class was struggling, and the American Dream was growing increasingly more challenging to achieve.
For the 25th edition of the Heartland Monitor, the poll returns to its roots by examining the economic state of the middle class and their drive for achieving the American Dream. This installment rekindles questions asked during the heart of the recession to assess how the recovery is progressing from the viewpoint of everyday Americans.
Today, despite continuing to monitor their spending habits and struggling to save for retirement, the majority of Americans still believe they are living the American Dream. When it comes to getting ahead in this country, Americans view their own skills and hard work as the most significant contributing factors, saying they play a much larger role than external factors such as the state of the economy and government policies. They view long-term financial goals such as owning a home and graduating from college as achievable. Most believe that the American Dream is possible for their generation, but they worry about it holding true for children growing up today. And, when it comes to providing equal opportunities for all income groups and all races, Americans feel that the country is not preforming at a high standard.
There is very little trust in the government among Americans, leaving most with a lack of confidence in the government’s ability to take an active role in continuing the economy’s recovery. Americans view policies through a political lens which results in mixed responses. As the government tries to tackle new issues, Americans look for outside perspectives, ideas, and solutions from other state and local sources.