The deep recession that began in December 2007 officially ended in June 2009. But the effects live on. In fact, many consumers remain worried.
Yet, despite continuing fears, Americans still show resilience and optimism, according to a new survey.
Released in May 2012 by Boston-based PR firm Solomon McCown, the national poll of 1,009 adults shows the American Dream survived the economic hardships of the past few years. It was conducted for the agency by Anderson Robbins Research.
In fact, close to three-quarters of those surveyed believe they have already achieved, or are on their way to achieving, the American Dream.
A new dream
Just 18 percent of those surveyed said they felt no impact from the recession. About 65 percent are still recovering. And 14 percent believe they won’t ever fully recover.
Yet, a majority of this last group still express their belief they have achieved, or are on the way to achieving, the American Dream.
According to the survey, Americans today have examined their lives and rethought the goals that are important to them.
Although a lucrative career might have epitomized the American Dream pre-recession, it ranked last in the 2012 study. Only 46 percent of those polled consider this goal “very or extremely important.”
“Economic status and all the creature comforts it brings are less important in the New Normal,” said Ashley McCown, the agency’s president.
As a group, those surveyed embrace honesty and a good work ethic. Hardships have made them thrifty and determined.
What matters most to participants? Top ranking aspects of the American Dream were:
- A happy marriage,
- A long and healthy retirement, and
- Living in an environmentally healthy and sustainable way.
Also polling strongly were home ownership and giving back. Two-thirds said these were a very or extremely important part of their American Dream.
Scars run deep
Given the challenges the last five years have presented to so many, it’s understandable that a majority believe the next generation will have fewer opportunities to achieve the American Dream.
Yet, even with ongoing healing, respondents’ optimism surfaces. Asked whether a high-quality education or $250,000 cash would start a young person off in a better way, 71 percent selected the college option.
To review the full survey and supplemental materials, including an infographic, visit the New Normal.
Now it’s your turn. Has your definition of the American Dream changed post-recession? In what way?
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