Heartland Monitor Poll
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Hard Work and Resiliency More Important than Government Policies

Feb. 8, 2016
Fifty-five percent of Millennials think their generation has more opportunities than their parents

Ahead of economic conditions and government policies, the majority of Americans believe determination and hard work are the critical differentiators in personal success, according to the 25th Heartland Monitor Poll.

In the midst of the political season marked by discussion about upward mobility, poll, conducted by The Allstate Corp.  National Journal the poll gauged the public’s views and outlooks on a variety of topics affecting local communities across the country, such as the state of the economy, financial security, education and home-ownership.

“We see this spirit of innovation and self-determination in the 10,000 communities we serve every day,” said Harriet K. Harty, executive vice president, Allstate Insurance Co. “Our country is rebuilding because individuals are taking their future into their own hands and working hard to make a good life for themselves and their families.”

State of the Economy

The majority of Americans believe the economy will improve or stay the same during the next year, but rate the current state as fair/poor: 

  • During the next 12 months, 71% of respondents believe the United States economy will improve or stay the same, though only a quarter (24%) thinking it will become worse.
  • In terms of viewpoints of the U.S. economy post Great Recession, more than half of Americans (53%) believe the economy looks and works differently from before the recession, whereas 43% say it looks the same as it was prior to the recession.
  • In rating the current state of the economy, 78% of Americans say it is fair/poor, compared to 21% who believe it is excellent/good. However, this is an uptick from a September 2013 Heartland Monitor Poll, where only 11% believed the economy was excellent/good.

Financial Security

In regards to financial security, Americans remain cautious, but there are some signs of improvement in future outlooks:

  • Nearly two-thirds of Americans (63%) believe they are living the American Dream, compared with 59% in March 2011.
  • The number of Americans in January 2016 who reported their personal financial situation as excellent/good reached the highest rate since June 2013 (45%). However, 54% rated their personal financial situation as fair/poor.
  • More Americans (57% in 2009 to 64% in 2016) believe that determination and hard work are the most important success factors. 
  • Adults who claimed they can live comfortably and save adequately for retirement increased by 10% since the recession. Nevertheless, 46% of respondents still say they find it difficult to save and invest for retirement and other purposes.
  • During the recession, almost six-in-10 (59%) were confident they had enough financial assets to provide a reasonable cushion of security in the case of job loss or significant decrease in income, but only half (51%) expressed the same confidence in 2016.

Education and Home Ownership

The majority of respondents believe that owning a home and graduating from college are just as achievable as during the recession, but their attitudes towards education’s role in success and getting ahead are changing:

  • Most people polled believe say owning a home (63%) and graduating from college (62%) are just as achievable in January 2016 as they were in March 2011. However, they say that “raising a family and making sure they have more opportunity than you did” (65% in 2011 to 55% in 2016) is less achievable today.
  • Fifty-two percent of respondents say young people do not need a four-year college education in order to be successful. This belief is similar for Americans with a college degree (52%) and those who do not have a college degree (53%).
  • Only 36% of Americans believe that personal debt for college, homeownership or to start a business is necessary as it helps people achieve the American Dream. In addition, nearly six-in-10 (5%) believe personal debt creates obstacles.
  • Fifty-five percent of Millennials think their generation has more opportunities than their parents

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