Americans are feeling hopeless about their chances of achieving a higher standard of living, with nearly half saying it has been difficult for them to move up the economic ladder, according to a new survey from the University of Chicago and AP-NORC. The survey found that about 54% of the respondents also said that they do not think that the younger generation will be above the standard of living of their parents.
Owning a home and raising a family are cited as important life goals by 7 out of 10 Americans, yet these milestones are considered difficult to achieve by more than half, the study said. goes, the study said. This pessimism may reflect the ongoing adversity created byover four decades, as well as Professor Steven Durloff of the University of Chicago, who studies inequality and helped build the study.
But the negative outlook may also reflect longer-term economic trends in the US, including widening income and wealth inequality as well as wage stagnation for certain types of workers, such as white men.
“There are dimensions where someone would say things are tough,” Durloff told CBS Moneywatch. “Change in people’s jobs has consequences and the jobs that are in between are good.”
“A subset of the population – to be blunt, white males – will experience some relative status reduction,” he said, which may be reflected in the survey.
racial difference in attitude
Black adults are more optimistic about the prospect of upward mobility than white Americans, with survey finding 43% of formers say it is easier for them to achieve a decent standard of living than their parents, versus 28% of white people said. Same.
The high level of optimism among black Americans “reflects an important fact—that with a history of terrible things done to African-Americans and a background of contemporary issues of discrimination, substantial progress has been made in many dimensions in the African-American community.” ,” Durlauf said.
Another major difference between respondents boiled down to political affiliation, with Democrats and Republicans citing differences affecting a person’s ability to improve their standard of living.
Nearly half of Democrats said a college education is important, compared to 31% of Republicans. In contrast, 87% of Republicans said hard work is important, compared to 76% of Democrats.
Durlouf said Republicans’ tendency to downplay the value of college education is troubling because higher education generally leads to higher lifetime earnings. Meanwhile, the median income of only those with a high school degree isin the last four decades.
“When you see that Republicans don’t believe that getting a college education is an important step, it says something about the possible decisions their parents are going to make for their children,” he said. Told.
Inflation and medium term
Public pessimism about the economic condition of the people could expose some political risks as the midterm election approaches, Durlauf said.
Jocian Cano, 39, a Chicago bus operator who is Hispanic, said he had a harder time financially than his parents. Hehigh housing costs and recently as example.
“Things have doubled and tripled in price,” he said. “We’re not talking about gym shoes or concert tickets. We’re talking about essentials. Six months ago, you didn’t get PediaSure. And if you can find it, it’s $20 It used to be $11 at Target.”
Cano also pointed to the declining purchasing power of the federal minimum wage, which has remained at $7.25 an hour since 2009, and that rent and education costs were more reasonable in the past.
According to the Economic Policy Institute, the federal minimum wage in 2021 was 34% lower than in 1968, when its purchasing power peaked.
-With reporting by The Associated Press.