Despite the continued improvement in the U.S. economy, there’s still discontent among many Americans about their personal economic situations, according to a new poll from Marketplace and Edison Research. The results of that poll were released today and developed into the first-ever Marketplace-Edison Research Economic Anxiety Index.
Among the more than 1,000 Americans surveyed:
- More than one in four people are losing sleep over their current financial situation.
- Sixty-three percent said they are sometimes or frequently anxious about their financial situation.
- Forty-two percent said they feel stuck in their current financial situation.
- Nearly two in five of those surveyed who have student loans don’t think those loans were worth it.
“The results of this poll show an interesting dynamic,” said Deborah Clark, Marketplace vice president and executive producer. “Data tell us that our economy is growing stronger every month, yet people feel like they’re continuing to struggle. People are losing sleep over worries about advancing their careers, finding work if they lose their jobs, paying the mortgage and making rent.”
How those individual fears play out on the national scene when voters head to the polls next year is yet to be seen, but the Economic Anxiety Index – which will be released periodically throughout the election cycle – is an important metric of which the 2016 presidential candidates should take note. The Economic Anxiety Index, a scale from 0 to 100, was developed from the responses to poll questions about respondents’ own financial situations, their fears about job security, and their concerns about meeting their expenses. The higher the number, the more economic stress someone is feeling. The Economic Anxiety Index mean score across all demographics is 31, though it varies widely among subgroups.
“We at Edison Research are proud to partner with Marketplace on this unique inquiry into the economic and financial state of mind of the American public,” said Larry Rosin, president of Edison Research. “We worked together to find the answers to questions that have not been asked before and the results are enlightening.”
The “99 percent” is not created equal
While it’s common to hear about the gap between the one percent and all the rest, there are much more telling divisions, including salaried workers versus hourly workers. Among hourly workers, 32 percent say their financial situation causes lost sleep, compared to 17 percent among those who are paid a salary. Similarly, 43 percent of hourly workers feel stuck, while only 21 percent of salaried workers report feeling that way. The Economic Anxiety Index scores of those groups reflect that difference. Hourly workers have a mean Anxiety Index of 39, compared to 26 for salaried workers.
“This Anxiety Index confirmed something that we’ve seen in our reporting over the years: The economy is personal,” Clark said. “No matter what the jobs reports, housing index or other indicators say, the numbers that matter most are those that hit closest to home. As the election nears and we conduct additional polling, it will be interesting to see how these Anxiety Index numbers correlate with Americans’ political choices.”
Hope for opportunity amid worry
In spite of the deep anxiety felt by Americans across demographic groups, there remains a sense of optimism – that hard work is more important than luck in getting ahead and that the American Dream is still attainable. In fact, 72 percent of respondents believe that they have a fair opportunity to achieve the life they hope for.
Marketplace-Edison Research Poll Methodology
The Marketplace-Edison Research Poll is a national survey of Americans ages 18 years and older. A total of 1,016 respondents were interviewed with 501 interviews conducted by telephone and 515 interviews conducted online. Among the telephone interviews, 300 were conducted via a landline phone and 201 interviews conducted via a mobile phone so that the proper proportion of coverage of households in the United States that do not have a landline phone would be achieved. The landline and cell phone sample of phone numbers and the email addresses for the online survey were provided by Survey Sampling International (SSI). The average length of the telephone interviews was sixteen minutes. The interviews were conducted from September 8-18, 2015. The data was weighted to match the most recent United States population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau for age, gender, race and region of the country. With a total sample size of 1,016 respondents, the calculated margin of error with a 95 percent confidence interval for results among the entire sample is +/- 3 percent. The calculated margins of error for results among smaller sub-groups are higher. The Economic Anxiety Index was developed from the survey responses.
About Edison Research
Edison Research conducts survey research and provides strategic information to a broad array of clients, including Activision, AMC Theatres, Disney, Dolby Laboratories, Google, Gulf News, the U.S. International Broadcasting Bureau, Pandora, Samsung, Siemens, Sony, Time Warner and Yahoo. Edison Research works with many of the largest American radio ownership groups, including Bonneville, Emmis, Entercom, CBS Radio and Radio One. Another specialty for Edison is its work for media companies throughout the world, conducting research in North America, South America, Africa, Asia, and Europe. Edison Research is the sole provider of election exit poll data for the National Election Pool comprised of ABC, CBS, CNN, FOX, NBC and the Associated Press. Edison is also the leading provider of consumer exit polling and has conducted face-to-face research in almost every imaginable venue. All of Edison Research’s industry studies can be found on the company’s website at www.edisonresearch.com and can be downloaded free of charge.
Marketplace® is produced and distributed by American Public Media™ (APM), one of the largest producers and distributors of public radio programming in the world with a portfolio reaching 19 million listeners via nearly 1,000 radio stations nationwide each week. Produced in association with the University of Southern California, Marketplace® programs (Marketplace, Marketplace Weekend, Marketplace Morning Report and Marketplace Tech) are currently broadcast by nearly 800 public radio stations nationwide and heard by more than 12 million weekly listeners and Marketplace, the weekday evening program, is the largest business news program, on radio or TV, in the country. Marketplace’s digital audience is also robust, with more than 5 million podcast downloads and stream requests every month, on apps like iTunes, Slacker and TuneIn. Marketplace programs are noted for their timely, relevant and accessible coverage of business, economic and personal finance focusing on the latest business news both nationally and internationally, the global economy and wider events linked to the financial markets. For more information on Marketplace visit marketplace.org. Source: Data are copyright Nielsen Audio and StreamGuys. Data are estimates only.