America This Week: Americans Swipe Right On Jobs, Call Them ‘AI-Natives,’ Working Parents Pay Cut, The Future of Transportation

The latest trends in society and culture from The Harris Poll

While consumer inflation in the U.S. cooled last month, it remains elevated above the Federal Reserve’s 2% target level. And as usual, Americans hesitate to show optimism if you read this newsletter. Our America This Week poll fielded February 16th to 18th among 2,066 Americans finds that (85%) of Americans are still concerned about the economy and inflation (+3%-pts from Nov. 2023), and (66%) still believe the worst of inflation is still ahead (-4%-pts).

This week, we have four new stories: First, American workers are looking to match with a new employer. Next, we see how Gen Z is diving into AI. Then, we find that employed parents would increase loyalty to companies providing childcare benefits. Lastly, despite glitchy self-driving cars and EV setbacks, Americans still think transportation is improving.

Swiping Right On New Jobs: Express Employment Professionals-Harris Poll

The U.S. announced the addition of 353,000 jobs in January. In our latest research with Express Employment Professionals, new job-seekers are hopeful they can find the perfect match in our new survey published by Staffing Industry Analysts.

  • Nearly four in ten (37%) U.S. employees hope to match with a new job this year despite that fewer (28%) believe there are more job opportunities in their chosen field than a year ago — down from (34%) last year.
  • A surprisingly high number (85%) of employees are feeling mobile because of not getting their expected salary increase (48%) or a change in their team structure (29%).
  • And over half (52%) of American workers believe their employers need them more than they need them, according to an Axios Vibes By The Harris Poll survey last month.

Takeaway: “The good news for employers is quality talent is out there and ready to make a move if the circumstances are right,” Express Employment CEO Bill Stoller. “While openings have decreased from their record high, it appears job seekers are still optimistic about securing positions in the next six months, hoping to connect them with the perfect opportunity.”

Younger Americans On AI Cutting Edge: MITRE-Harris Poll

Gen Z is bullish on Generative AI for school and work in our new Harris-MITRE youth survey featured in Axios and Axios Mike Allien’s AM Newsletter.

  • AI Generation Gap: While most U.S. adults (54%) say AI’s risks outweigh its benefits, Gen Z and Millennials are slightly more excited about the potential benefits of AI (57%, 62%) than its risks (43%, 38%).
  • Gen Z (54%) and Millennials (58%) are most willing to use AI to perform everyday tasks vs. Gen X (39%) and Boomers (30%).
  • According to January Harris Poll research with The FQ at The World Economic Forum, Gen Z/Millennials say using AI tools in their personal life reduces the mental load they have to carry (73%) and has given them time back to do other things (73%).

Takeaway: “We’re not seeing a nervousness” among Gen Zers, says Valerie Capers Workman, chief legal officer at Handshake. “They see it as an opportunity to be on the cutting edge of a transformational technology. They are digging in on AI,” says Workman, the author of a book on career advancement in the age of AI. “The most important headline is, they are hyper-aware that it is mission-critical for them.”

Parents Would Take A Pay Cut for Childcare Benefits: KinderCare-Harris Poll

How desperate are American parents for childcare? Well, our fifth annual Parent Confidence Index with KinderCare finds that (57%) of parents would take a pay cut to work for a company that provided childcare benefits.

  • Also, two-thirds (65%) of working parents would stay at their job if their employer offered subsidized child care, yet only a quarter of parents surveyed say their employer offers a child care benefit.
  • As this crisis grows, more than (70%) are now contemplating adapting their careers to be able to care for their children.
  • Working parents are in desperate straits: (48%) say finding childcare feels impossible right now, and a quarter (23%) don’t have an emergency option if their primary form of childcare is unavailable.
  • Lack of childcare has real-world consequences: According to data with Express Employment Professionals, about one-third (34%) of employed Americans have put starting a family on hold due to a lack of work-life balance, and nearly 3 in 5 (59%) say it’s essential that their future company prioritizes work-life balance as they look to start a family.

Takeaway: “Child care is more important than ever for America’s working families, whether it’s through employer-sponsored benefits, expanding child care access in communities nationwide or through continued government support for working families,” said Tom Wyatt, Chairman and CEO of KinderCare Learning Companies.

The Bright Future of Transportation: MITRE-Harris Poll

Technology has the potential to enhance our travel experiences throughout the surface transportation ecosystem, as well as improve safety, reliability, and equity. However, user attitudes – from reticence toward AI to the importance of sustainability – underscore the need for planning, according to our latest data with MITRE.

  • U.S. residents believe their transportation experience will improve in the next ten years, with (40%) saying it will get better. Yet nearly a quarter (23%) believe it will get worse.
  • Of the improvements respondents want to see, safety (90%) tops the list, followed by lower costs (83%), improved data privacy (79%), increased predictability (78%), and environmental sustainability (77%).
  • Next century’s transportation: (60%) of respondents expect to use hybrid or electric vehicles in their lifetime, and (40%) expect to use driverless cars, taxis, ridesharing vehicles, and delivery vehicles.
  • However, Boeing’s safety problem is creating caution: Our research with Fast Company found that of those aware of the mishap on an Alaska Airlines flight last month and other recent air-travel incidents, (43%) said such stories have made them less comfortable with flying.

Takeaway: However, priorities vary among generations. “When looking at the future of transportation, Gen Z stands out from other generations,” said Rob Jekielek, managing director at The Harris Poll. “Regarding transportation priorities, (85%) of Gen Z say it is important to increase environmental sustainability over the next ten years, 11%-points higher than other generations.”

Download the Data

This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by The Harris Poll from February 16th to 18th, among a nationally representative sample of 2,066 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 16th to 18th, among a nationally representative sample of 2,066 U.S. adults.


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