America This Week: Those Who Wish for a Recession, Is it Sports Washing? AI’s Communication Boon and The Wage Gains Mirage.

The latest trends in society and culture from The Harris Poll

As Michigan’s primary results rolled in last night, so did a protest vote over President Biden’s handling of the Israeli-Hamas war.  We added a new anacronym (IVF) to other seemingly benign three-letter words like DEI and ESG. No wonder our America This Week poll fielded February 23rd to 25th among 2,102 Americans shows that three-quarters (76%) of the nation is concerned about political divisiveness. (And we’re still a week away from Super Tuesday).

This week, we have four new stories: First, according to a new Credit Karma Harris study, the housing market has become so tight that many prospective homeowners now wish for a recession. Next, more sports leagues and events are titling toward the Middle East, which younger sports fans are OK with. Then, a new Grammarly-Harris Poll study finds that generative AI can save businesses over a trillion dollars annually by improving communications. And to finish, while wage gains are catching up to inflation, employees are still waiting to feel it.

It’s That Bad Out There: Prospective Homeowners Now Wish For A Recession: Credit Karma-Harris Poll

According to a new Credit Karma Harris study in Moneywise, the current housing market is keeping the white-picket-fence dream out of reach for many Americans.

  • Context: The Federal Reserve spent multiple years raising interest rates to combat persistent inflation. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) expects house prices to rise 2.6% by the end of 2024.
  • And so, (82%) of respondents in our study say the country is grappling with an “unprecedented” housing affordability crisis.
  • Meanwhile, another three in five (61%) who’ve never bought a home don’t think they’ll ever be able to do so.
  • The housing affordability crisis is so dire that almost two-thirds (64%) of prospective home buyers say they are ready for a recession if it means interest rates will go down.
  • But would a recession bring financial relief? An Axios Vibes By The Harris Poll found that three in five (57%) renters described their current economic situation as “poor” (v. homeowners: 29%).

Takeaway: “There is no denying how difficult it’s become to purchase a home in America today, especially for first-time buyers,” said Aniva Hinduja, general manager of home and mortgage at Credit Karma. “When most potential home buyers wish for a recession to afford a mortgage, you know the situation is dire.” Although prospective buyers are desperate, a recession could bring other economic changes that impede homeownership.

Middle Eastern Sports Cash Doesn’t Faze Young Americans: Sportico-Harris Poll

You might have noticed that more sporting events are being hosted in the Middle East. The annual 2024 Qatar Open, the inaugural “Six Kings Slams,” and the WTA Tour Finals in Saudi Arabia, to name a few. And while this news bothers older Americans, that’s not the case for younger people in our latest research with Sportico.

  • Background: The recent influx of Middle Eastern money into sports has impacted most leagues and governing bodies. Witness Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund’s purchasing a minority stake in Washington Wizards and Capitals parent Monumental Sports & Entertainment. (The PGA and Saudi-based LIV leagues merged last year).
  • American fans are split: (51%) of professional sports fans agree that “the influx of Middle Eastern sovereign wealth fund money into global sports is a good thing.”
  • But, there’s a generation gap: (61%) of Gen Z/Millennials think the investment is good compared to their older counterparts (Gen X/Boomers+: 28%).

  • Younger Americans think U.S. sports leagues should allow sovereign wealth funds to invest in teams (61% v. 29%) older Americans.
  • Younger generations are also far more likely to approve of their favorite sports team making a deal with a particular Middle Eastern country, such as Qatar (59%), the United Arab Emirates (57%), or Saudi Arabia (57%) compared to older Americans (30%, 28%, 25%).

Takeaway: These deals are controversial because of the well-documented human rights violations that have taken place in these nations. Qatar received criticism when it hosted the FIFA World Cup in 2022 based on the treatment of migrant workers in the country. The term “sportswashing” implies that countries spend on sports teams and events to improve their public image.

AI’s Potential To Turn Overload Into Impact: Grammarly-Harris Poll

What we have here is an expensive failure to communicate: In the Grammarly-Harris Poll’s third annual State of Business Communication in Forbes, we expose how generative AI can save $1.6 trillion in U.S. communication productivity each year.

  • More communication brings stress: Business leaders and workers have been communicating more (78%) and in more channels (73%) this past year, and it’s causing more stress than ever, particularly among workers (+16%-pts over last year).
  • Poor communication comes with its downfalls, such as increased stress (51%), decreased productivity (41%), and decreased satisfaction at work (35%).
  • Professionals using gen AI for communication enjoy a significant productivity boost – saving approximately one day per workweek, amounting to $16,455 per worker per year. 
  • But even though it’s helping, most workers still wish their companies were more open to implementing AI (58%) and don’t know how to use AI well (52%).

Takeaway: “Companies not using generative AI for communication are already way behind, and those that are are far from realizing its full potential,” said Matt Rosenberg, Grammarly’s Chief Revenue Officer and Head of Grammarly Business. “The data is clear that generative AI offers monumental benefits, but can also add more distractions when teams need ways to communicate better, not add more to the mix.”

Inflation is Still Beating Our Paystubs: American Staffing Association-Harris Poll

As interest rates and inflation exert increased pressure on consumers’ finances, our American Staffing Association-Harris Poll in Newsweek and Staffing Industry Analysts shows many employees feel their paychecks are still lagging behind inflation.

  • Nearly two in five (38%) Americans even said their overall financial situation is more stressful than 12 months ago when most Americans said inflation is causing them to save less for unexpected expenses.
  • More than half (53%) of US workers feel their paychecks are not keeping up with the pace of inflation rather than keeping up (47%).
  • Younger employees react with raise requests: Two-thirds of Gen Z and Millennials intend to request a raise in 2024 (66%, 67% v. Gen X: 51%, Boomers: 42%).

Takeaway: “The data may project a soft landing for the economy, but the bank accounts of America’s workers are telling a different story,” said Richard Wahlquist, CEO of the American Staffing Association. “With the price of a pound of ground beef increasing by 29% over just four years and personal savings rates at their lowest levels in 15 years, US workers are understandably stressed about the adequacy of their paychecks and their ability to save for their future.”

Download the Data

This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by The Harris Poll from February 23rd to 25th, among a nationally representative sample of 2,102 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 23rd to 25th, among a nationally representative sample of 2,102 U.S. adults.


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