Americans' outlook on personal finances unchanged under Obama

WASHINGTON — Two years of massive federal efforts to stimulate the economy have had no effect on how people feel about their own pocketbooks, according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll.

The survey found that 28 percent of American adults think their family finances will get better in the next year, 20 percent think they'll get worse and 52 percent think they'll stay the same.

That's almost identical to what the poll found in April 2009, near the beginning of the Obama administration. Then, 28 percent thought their finances would get better, 22 percent thought they'd get worse and 50 percent thought they'd stay the same.

The numbers have been very similar in between, as well.

"Through all the ups and downs of the economy, and give and take among the nation's political leadership, Americans' expectations about their personal finances have remained essentially unchanged," said Lee Miringoff, the director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., which conducted the national survey.

"People are slightly more positive than negative about their future family income, but most tell us things are likely to stay the same," he said. "That finding is what we have found since President Obama took office in 2009."

Younger people are more optimistic than older ones: Forty-four percent of those aged 18-29 said they expected their finances to get better in the coming year. That confidence dropped to 39 percent of those 30-44, 26 percent of those aged 45-59 and 13 percent of those 60 and older.

At the same time, the personal financial outlook looks more stable with age: Forty-three percent of those aged 18-29 expect their finances to be about the same a year from now. That rose among each older group in turn, to 46 percent, 53 percent and 61 percent.

Race also produced different outlooks: Twenty-three percent of whites expected better results a year from now, 21 percent expected worse and 56 percent expected the same. Nonwhites were decidedly more optimistic, with 42 percent expecting better, 18 percent expecting worse and 40 percent expecting about the same.


This survey of 1,003 adults was conducted June 15-23. People 18 and older who live in the continental United States were interviewed by telephone. Telephone numbers were selected based on a list of telephone exchanges from throughout the nation. The exchanges were selected to ensure that each region was represented in proportion to its population. To increase coverage, this land-line sample was supplemented by respondents reached through random dialing of cell phone numbers. The two samples then were combined. Results are statistically significant within 3.0 percentage points. There are 165 adults planning to move out of the states where they currently live. Results for this subset are statistically significant within 8.0 percentage points. The error margin increases for cross-tabulations.


McClatchy-Marist poll, July 6, 2011, on personal finance

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