WASHINGTON, Oct. 3, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Americans remain optimistic about their ability to "get ahead," even through a challenging economic recovery, but many have lowered their expectations about what that means in the face of rising college costs, jobs going overseas, and a growing income gap, according to poll results announced today by The Allstate Corporation (NYSE: ALL) and National Journal.
[Watch a live briefing on the latest Heartland Monitor Poll TODAY at 11:30am ET (9:30AM MT) at http://www.nationaljournal.com/events.]
The 14th quarterly Allstate-National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll explores perceptions of upward mobility among Americans and sheds new light on the challenges and obstacles they face in their continued efforts to get ahead. Nearly half (48%) of Americans say they have more opportunity to get ahead than their parents did, and 73% say they expect to reach financial security and comfort in their lifetimes. Today, three in four Americans say getting ahead is harder than in the past, but an equal proportion have been able get ahead in their lifetime.
"Americans continue to hold an aspirational view of their own ability to get ahead in the future and the ability of the country to rebound, but they believe that achieving their life goals is harder than it used to be and the path to those goals is more uncertain," said Joan Walker, executive vice president of corporate relations for Allstate. "At the same time, the economic and psychological impact of the Great Recession clearly continues as Americans are recalibrating the very definition of what getting ahead means and increasingly seeking stability and security over riskier chances for upward mobility. Managing through a protracted period of stagnant job growth and depressed wages, reducing personal debt and grappling with higher education costs are all significant components of the new social and economic paradigm for middle-class families."
Most Americans, as in earlier generations, still believe they control their own destinies. Asked what plays the greatest role in determining whether they will succeed, about two-thirds identified either their own skills and hard work or their educational background; less than one in five said the key factor was the economy's overall state. Only about one in 20 assigned the most responsibility to either government policies or their ethnic and racial background.
But even while 76% of Americans say they've been able to get ahead financially over the course of their lives so far, nearly as many (75%) believe it is harder to do so today than in previous generations. Almost half (48%) say they have more opportunities than their parents did at the same age, but a greater number combined say they either have the same opportunities (28%) or fewer (23%). Minorities (at 61%) are more likely than whites (at 44%) to say they have more opportunities than their parents did.
And slightly more than half of Americans (51%) say the economic downturn has redefined what it means to "get ahead," defining success today as holding a job, paying bills, avoiding debt, and saving a little for the future, rather than bigger success factors, like steady increases in income, buying a home, or saving and investing more each year.
"The results of this poll capture the systemic strain between the bedrock American belief that anyone who works hard enough can succeed and the uneasy sense that persistent, and perplexing, headwinds in a globalized economy are making it harder for workers to get ahead," said Ronald Brownstein, editorial director for National Journal. "From it emerges a picture of a wary but resilient public that is systematically adjusting itself, more by necessity than choice, to an economic order in which nothing is more predictable than uncertainty."
Key findings from the 14th Allstate-National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll (PDF) include:
1) The overwhelming majority of Americans believe they live in the "land of opportunity," and most believe they are living the American Dream. However, they are less certain about the opportunities the next generation will have.
2) Most Americans report having gotten ahead throughout their lives, and they are confident in their ability to do so in the future. But they also believe it is harder now than it has been in previous generations.
3) More than half of Americans believe that the economic downturn has redefined what it means to "get ahead," and nearly half expect the nation's income gap to continue growing.
4) Americans continue to grow slightly more optimistic about the direction of the country and they have a slightly more positive economic outlook.
Notes to Editors
National Sample of 1,250 ADULTS AGE 18+ - For Questions 1-19
National Sample of 1,000 ADULTS AGE 18+ - For Questions 20-55
(Margin of Error for a Sample of N = 1,250 is +/-2.77% in 95 out of 100 cases)
(Margin of Error for a Sample of N = 1,000 is +/-3.1% in 95 out of 100 cases)
Conducted September 15-19, 2012 Via Landline and Cell Phone
The Allstate Corporation (NYSE: ALL) is the nation's largest publicly held personal lines insurer. Widely known through the "You're In Good Hands With Allstate®" slogan, Allstate is reinventing protection and retirement to help nearly 16 million households insure what they have today and better prepare for tomorrow. Consumers access Allstate insurance products (auto, home, life and retirement) and services through Allstate agencies, independent agencies, and Allstate exclusive financial representatives in the U.S. and Canada, as well as via www.allstate.com and 1-800 Allstate®. As part of Allstate's commitment to strengthen local communities, The Allstate Foundation, Allstate employees, agency owners and the corporation provided $28 million in 2011 to thousands of nonprofit organizations and important causes across the United States. For an overview of the other Allstate-National Journal Heartland Monitor Polls, visit http://www.allstate.com/heartland-monitor. Additional information is available at www.storiesfromtheheartland.com.
About National Journal Group
National Journal is Washington's premier source for 360-degree insight on politics and policy. With up-to-the-minute breaking news and analysis at NationalJournal.com, the essential intelligence of National Journal Daily, the knowledge and depth of National Journal magazine, and the comprehensive campaign coverage of National Journal Hotline, National Journal delivers everything you need to know to stay ahead of the curve in Washington.
About FTI Consulting
FTI Consulting, Inc. is a global business advisory firm dedicated to helping organizations protect and enhance enterprise value in an increasingly complex legal, regulatory and economic environment. With more than 3,800 employees located in 24 countries, FTI Consulting professionals work closely with clients to anticipate, illuminate and overcome complex business challenges in areas such as investigations, litigation, mergers and acquisitions, regulatory issues, reputation management, strategic communications and restructuring. The company generated $1.56 billion in revenues during fiscal year 2011. More information can be found at www.fticonsulting.com.
SOURCE The Allstate Corporation