The latest trends in culture and society from The Harris Poll 

Our America, This Week survey, fielded February 17th to 19th among 2,047 US adults, finds concern about the economy and inflation (87%) is unchanged from mid-December. Yet there are hopeful signs that the economy might be turning for the better. 

Our new Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll fielded just two days earlier (February 15th to 16th among 1,838 registered voters) finds that while the majority (58%) say the country is on the wrong track, this is down -3%-pts from January). 

Also, we see other measures of economic pessimism abating: 

  • For example, (61%) of voters who believe the economy is on the wrong track have declined (-5%-pts) from January. 
  • And over a quarter (28%) who say their personal financial situation is improving is up (+4%-pts), while the (50%) who still say it’s worsening is also down (-6%-pts).  
  • And a fifth (21%) now think the U.S. will be able to avoid a recession (+4%-pts), with slightly fewer cynics who believe we are currently in a recession (40%, -2%-pts) or say we will be in one within the year (38%, -2%-pts). 

This week we cover four new surveys (below), including job seekers who want the reassurance of an in-person interview. And in a week when Bing turned into Sydney, there’s growing public mistrust of AI. Also, we delve into the tax on being single and why the new healthcare crisis may be doctors drowning in data.

Work From Home, But Interview IRL: American Staffing Association-Harris Poll

In a strong labor market, more workers are getting the itch: A recent Harris Poll found that (41%) of Americans are more likely to consider pursuing a new job within the next six months. But in our latest survey with American Staffing Association, increasingly remote workers want to meet their new boss face-to-face first. 

  • Seven in ten (70%) American job seekers say they want to interview in person for a new job rather than a video or phone call (17%, and 9%, respectively). 
  • One reason is that many job-seekers need more reassurance in the company’s culture and opportunities, as we found last Fall when the Great Resignation led to the Great Regret. 
  • But nearly two-thirds (67%) say they would feel the need to modify their usual appearances in some way before a job interview, which is especially common among Hispanics (74% v. white: 65%).  
  • And BIPOC interviewees feel more biases on ‘looking professional’: Before an interview, more Black Americans feel the need to shave their facial hair (33% v. white: 22%), while both Hispanic and Black Americans also feel the need to cover tattoos (19%, 17% v. white: 10%) and remove their facial piercings (18%, 14% v. 9%). 
  • The anxiety for BIPOC Americans in the workplace isn’t new: A previous Axios-Harris Poll study found that when asked about their concerns in returning to the office, nearly half (47%) of women of color said they worried about having to dress for work (v. men: 31%). 

Takeaway: “Job seekers may prefer to have the option to work remotely, but they still want to make their first impressions in person,” said Richard Wahlquist, ASA president and CEO. One reason for this is a recent  Bloomberg-Harris Poll study finding that over half of Americans (57%) believe that companies have more power in the job market. This leaves job seekers wary of falling prey to ‘bait and switching’ tactics (e.g., “I can’t see the real company culture from a screen”) or going in for an interview with performative anxieties. 

AI Has a Trust Problem: MITRE-Harris Poll

As the sheer hype from Chatbot GPT is tempered by recent AI-creepiness, people are still determining if they trust artificial intelligence to operate in their best interests, according to our new poll with MITRE in The Byte and The Boston Globe.  

  • Americans have increasing reservations about AI: Fewer than half (48%) believe AI is safe and secure, and over three-quarters (78%) are concerned that AI can be used for malicious intent
  • Deepfakes spook people: Three-quarters are concerned about deep fakes and other AI-generated content.
  • And fewer than half (49%) would be comfortable having an AI-based online chat for routine medical questions or using AI to assist with Federal benefits processing
  • As such, (81%) of Americans support government regulation and the need for the industry to invest more in AI assurance measures to protect the public – a sentiment that tech experts agree with even more (91% and 92%, respectively). 

Takeaway: “Artificial intelligence technology and frameworks could radically boost efficiency and productivity in many fields,” said Douglas Robbins, MITRE Vice President of Engineering and Prototyping. “It can enable better, faster imagery analysis in medical and national security fields. And it can replace dull, dirty, and dangerous jobs. But if the public doesn’t trust AI, adoption may be mostly limited to less important tasks like recommendations on streaming services or contacting a call center in the search for a human.”

The Tax on Being Single: Fortune-Harris Poll

What does it mean to be single – not married, living with a partner, or in a committed romantic relationship? A new Harris survey with Fortune finds that while there are many joys in being single, there are also hidden economic inequities:

  • Being single, by the numbers: Nearly 118 million Americans, or (46%) of those over 18 years old, are single, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.   
  • And a quarter of Americans and over a third of Gen Z (35%) say they’re not actively looking for a relationship
  • Being unattached is more common: Over two-thirds of Americans (68%) believe that the stigma of being single is gradually diminishing.
  • Being single can bring empowerment: The large majority of single Americans agree that being single has taught them how to work with their money and also feel more empowered and in control of their finances:

  • The single tax: However, three-quarters of Americans say that it can be more affordable to be in a relationship, especially when it comes to splitting everyday costs:

  • And inflation dampens dating: Six in ten singles (60%) report that dating is becoming an unaffordable luxury thanks to inflation. 

Takeaway: “We need to reexamine our perceptions of single Americans,” Libby Rodney, futurist and chief strategy officer at the Harris Poll. “It’s worth noting that being single isn’t void of anything. On the contrary, single people are involved in a spectrum of deep and meaningful relationships, and it’s important to recognize the richness of their relationship choices” (Fortune). But it might also be time to give some singles a tax break: 4 in 5 singles (79%) say they’d like the government to offer more tax breaks for single people.

Doctors Don’t Have Time To Read Your Fitbit: ZS-Harris Poll

As patient portals become more ubiquitous and telehealth/remote data pours in from apps and wearables, leaving doctors awash in data, according to a new Harris Poll study with the healthcare consulting firm ZS in Politico

  • Seven in ten U.S. primary care physicians (71%) we surveyed say they have more data than they can handle. The exact number says they don’t know what to do with it all. 
  • Our survey also covered primary care providers in the U.K., Japan, Germany, China, and Sweden, struggling with overwhelming data (84%, 75%, 68%, 66%, and 58%, respectively). 
  • The patient data problem is only compounded as over half (57%) of PCPs report that technology flaws are a barrier to having better-connected health care.
  • Another area of trouble is reimbursement: An overwhelming majority (86%) of primary care physicians say that a lack of reimbursement for connecting health care is a hurdle.
  • And there are the timing consequences of consent forms, with more than 4 in 5 (81%) reporting them as a hassle.

Takeaway: The overwhelming amount of data comes from health trackers, provider networkers, and electronic health records, which can prove challenging to combine and utilize efficiently. “Things are coming from so many directions,” Bill Coyle, report author and global biopharma head at ZS, “That’s where that overload or overwhelming feeling is coming from.” And providers often don’t have standards or protocols to help them make sense of it all, added Maria Whitman, ZS’s managing partner of global commercialization strategy and solutions.

That’s it for today. But check out the latest America This Week monthly summary slide deck and tabs for more insights into inflation and American sentiment on the country. Download the latest report here. And download the latest Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll here

Download the Data

This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by The Harris Poll from February 17th to 19th among a nationally representative sample of 2,047 U.S. adults.

John Gerzema headshot

John Gerzema


Download the Data

This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by The Harris Poll from February 17th to 19th among a nationally representative sample of 2,047 U.S. adults.


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