In The Harris Poll Tracker (Week 132) fielded from September 2nd to 4th, 2022 among 2,025 U.S. adults, nearly 9 in 10 Americans (86%) remain concerned about inflation and (80%)  a potential U.S. recession. Also, two-thirds (65%) say inflation and rising prices are the most important issue facing their family today; more than double that of other issues in America like guns, crime, and safety (38%), climate change (35%), and COVID (34%). And soberingly, nearly three-quarters (72%) believe that the worst of inflation is still ahead of us (v. behind: 28%). 

Here’s what else you need to know this week… 

New polls below include a study of summer interns (by Harris interns) on their lonely summer in empty offices. This new study featured in Bloomberg this morning finds that young people feel remote management isn’t managing at all.

Speaking of back to work, we have two pieces showing the effects of inflation on the American worker; one looking at a return to work and frugality after a summer of FOMO. And the second story finds workers settling into the job they have rather than risk looking in what they feel is an ever-uncertain economic environment. 

And what good did you do during COVID? Harris’ co-CEO Will Johson led new research finding that young Americans donated their time; older Americans their money. 

And our last survey finds that inflation is changing our diets in interesting ways. 

Check out our America This Week: From The Harris Poll podcast on Spotify and Apple Podcasts with me, John, and our CSO Libby Rodney on this week’s data and more.

A Lonely Summer for America’s Interns: Bloomberg-Harris Poll

One undiscussed downside of remote working is the effective management of young people. This was brought into stark contrast in a new Harris Poll with Bloomberg showing that young workers found it difficult to make connections, get feedback, and learn company culture while encountering half-empty offices, absent managers, and sporadic networking opportunities.

  • Remote work makes for lonely young workers: More than half of Gen Z interns/newly hired workers said working remotely makes it difficult to establish connections. In contrast, (55%) said they feel like they’re missing out on an important step into adulthood because of how the pandemic affected office culture.
  • Two-thirds of respondents said that understanding corporate office culture is essential to their career. Still, remote and hybrid work models make it difficult to understand and participate in their workplace culture (56%). 
  • And for those in fully remote or hybrid roles, (37%) said they feel like they’re falling behind their counterparts who work in the office full time.
  • A disconnect in working arrangements is part of the reason why: While (46%) of interns worked remotely, over a third said their managers were in the office. And for the (33%) of interns who worked in-person, nearly a quarter said their managers worked remotely.

Takeaway: In all the debate about the return to the office, CEO John Gerzema says, “we’re overlooking what the future of work really means – our collective role as managers of future talent. We forget we’re dealing with an interrupted generation – first at school – and now at work. And if this past summer is any indication, young people have lost faith in us as managers to mentor, listen and create a workplace where they can launch their careers. Remote work doesn’t mean remote management.”

Americans Blame Inflation on a Failure in Leadership

As spending data shows, Americans took the summer to YOLO,  indulging in revenge travel, concerts, and rescheduled weddings.  But as they go back to work, persistent inflation is damping their outlook, according to new September Harris polling:

  • 7 in 10 (71%) say rising inflation is negatively impacting their ability to afford their monthly budget, leaving (69%) to say they are likely to cut back on spending right now and more than half (56%) to adjust the rest of their 2022 financial plans
  • This is because less than a third of Americans (32%) feel confident in their finances and, in turn, feel upset that leaders aren’t doing enough for the economy (55%), angry that they don’t know when economic upheaval will end (44%), and even regret in missing out on experiences that they can’t afford to participate in now (40%). 
  • Less than half of Americans (48%, +4%-pts from March 2022) think inflation will likely taper off by 2023. Younger Americans are more optimistic: More Millennials and Gen Z think it’s likely to taper off (58%, 53% v. Gen X: 46%, Boomer: 41%).   

Takeaway: Inflation is now like another more powerful variant of COVID, aiming at Americans’ budgets and lifestyles. But leaders steeped in the economic numbers and talking points forget that inflation is highly personal. Rising prices mean painful tradeoffs and people missing out on things they want to do and experience, making this all feel like the third year of a seemingly never-ending interrupted life. The midterms could be a referendum on whom Americans feel most likely to give them back control over personal happiness.

Back to Work And Staying Put

Earlier in the year, all talk was of The Great Resignation. Then Harris Poll data found The Great Regret: job-switchers who found the grass was not greener. And now, as Americans return to work, six-in-ten are saying they are settling back into the jobs they have, regardless if they really want to or not. 

  • Four in ten Americans feel their overall financial health is worse, and nearly 3 in 5 (59%) say the current economy has killed their confidence in their personal finances, according to a recent survey with NerdWallet
  • A rocky economy is keeping employees where they are: A recent Harris survey with Bloomberg found that (62%) of employees said current economic conditions are a key reason why they plan to stay at their current jobs and that companies have more leverage in the job market these days than employees (58%). 
  • It doesn’t mean those choosing to stay are happy with their pay, as a recent survey with CareerBuilder, featured in BizWomen, found that less than half of employees (46%) report that fair pay is what attracts them most to their current roles. 

Takeaway: The Great Resignation is suddenly now The Great Lay-Low. But don’t count on employers to have the upper hand for long. Akin to Harris polling on quiet quitting, employers must recognize their employees might be staying put, but not because they love their jobs. If the pendulum swings, those not willing to risk their job security for the unknown in this economic climate might be the first out the door. Complacent managers using the economy as a crutch for talent management will be the first to find this out.

The Economy Is Changing, and So Is Philanthropy: Fortune-Harris Poll

According to co-CEO Will Johnson’s latest op-ed in Fortune, when it comes to philanthropy, Americans rose to the occasion during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there were distinct differences between Americans in time and money given. 

  • Younger Americans give their time, older Americans give their money: (49%) of adults under 45 volunteered in the last year (v. ages 45+: 31%) and more often attended a fundraiser, rally, or other supporting events, yet those 45 and up more often made a financial contribution.
  • Younger Americans were more likely to give financial contributions to educational charities than their older counterparts (28% v. 15%), perhaps because of their recent school experiences, their school-aged children, and their support of government action on student loan debt
  • Women have more brand loyalty to specific organizations, while men are more cause-oriented: While women report being more likely to support a specific organization for their charitable contributions, men were more motivated by donating to a cause they want to support. 

Takeaway: Charitable organizations will need to be wary of potential dips in charitable donations as inflation continues to undercut American finances and their generosity. Johnson writes that “nonprofits must shift the focus of their messaging as they appeal for support in this inflation-battered economy. If charitable dollars become scarce, nonprofits should step up their appeals to younger Americans who are more inclined toward in-kind contributions of their time and skills.”

How Inflation Is Changing Our Diet

First, COVID created shortages at the grocery store, and now the highest inflation in forty years is prompting people to shift their eating habits again, according to recent Harris Poll data. 

  • More than three-quarters (76%) of Americans say that grocery prices are where they feel inflation most in their daily lives, and over 4 in 10 (42%) say they feel it in eating/drinking out at restaurants.  
  • But inflation is also changing eating habits: Back in May, a Harris/Alpha Foods study covered by CNBC found 4 in 10 Americans (40%) reported entertaining at home more than going out to combat food inflation. 
  • Going out less: We also found a third of Americans (33%) are still willing to spend on eating out given the state of the economy, and 3 in 10 (29%) would rather spend money on local experiences such as trying a new restaurant (v. travel experiences: 37%, physical products: 34%). 
  • It’s all about convenience and experience as we found in our latest Harris Brand Platform data, consumers were more likely to purchase from Panera (usage +8.9) and recommend the restaurant (+5.1) after the company focused on convenience, dining experience, and even their logo in their rebranding efforts. 

Takeaway: Inflation is tightening American budgets and causing Americans to be more mindful of where and when they spend their money, especially regarding restaurant meals. Companies must be cognizant of their advertisements, promotions, and overall experience to keep consumers interested and coming back.


Download the Data

This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by The Harris Poll from September 2nd to 4th, among a nationally representative sample of 2,025 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 September 2nd to 4th, among a nationally representative sample of 2,025 U.S. adults.


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