Americans Worried About Basic Financial Necessities Such as Health Care and Having Money for More Than Basic Things

    NEW YORK , N.Y. – July 28, 2014 – The economy remains something of a paradox. As leading indicators continue to move into positive territory and the Dow Jones Industrial Index remains near 17,000, all should indicate a rosy situation. But this doesn’t seem to translate into a rosy opinion of how the economy is actually doing. The American public remains concerned about many aspects of the overall economic picture and, more importantly, how it impacts them in their wallets and savings accounts.

    These are some of the results of The Harris Poll¨ of 2,306 adults surveyed online between July 16 and 21, 2014.

    The President is a figure who the public blames when things are not going well economically but rewards when things are going well. And, only three in ten Americans (30%) give President Obama positive ratings for his handling of the economy while seven in ten (70%) give him negative ratings. This is down slightly from last month, when almost one-third (32%) gave the President positive marks on the economy and over two-thirds (68%) gave him negative ratings.

    When it comes to their household’s financial condition, half of Americans (51%) say they expect it will remain the same in the next six months while just under one-quarter (23%) say it will be better and just over one-quarter (26%) say it will be worse. Compared to last month, this is a little worse. The same number of Americans felt things would be better (23%), but more said things would remain the same (54%) and fewer said things would be worse (23%).

    Some worries Americans have

    Financial worries can keep people up at night. More than two-thirds of those Americans who are either employed themselves or have a spouse who is (68%) say they are worried they will not have enough money for retirement while more than three in five of this same group (63%) worry they will have health care costs they cannot afford. While three in five of these employed Americans (60%) say they are not worried that they or their spouse will have to take on a second job to make ends meet, two in five (40%) are worried about this.

    A majority of all Americans (55%) are worried that they will have to work later in life than they want because they won’t be able to afford to retire. However, this includes people who may have their eyes already on retirement. Among the younger generations, the worry is a lot more as almost two-thirds of Millennials (64%) and three-quarters of Gen Xers (74%) are worried about this.

    Parents are always going to have special worries, whether it is about the health of their children or just their overall happiness, no matter what their age. Among those parents with children under 18, more than three in five (63%) are worried that they will not have enough money for one or more of their children to go to college. And over one-third of parents of children of all ages (36%) are worried that their child or children will have to move back in with them because they will not be able to afford housing.

    Housing worries are another issue. Almost one-quarter of those with a mortgage (23%) are worried that they will lose their home because they can’t afford the mortgage payments, and this rises to one-third of Millennials (32%) who own a home and have a mortgage. Among those who are not yet home owners, three in five (61%) are worried they will not be able to afford to buy a home. More than two-thirds of Gen Xers who do not own a home (68%) and two-thirds of non home owning Millennials (66%) are worried they will not be able to afford to buy a home.

    Then there are the basic things one buys every day – some are small luxuries such as a latte; others are really basic such as food and transportation. Half of Americans (51%) are worried they will not be able to afford anything more than the basic necessities and two in five (41%) are worried that they will not have enough money for basic necessities such as food, housing, clothes, and transport.

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    TABLE 1

    PRESIDENT OBAMA’S JOB RATING ON THE ECONOMY – TREND

    Now, turning to something different, how would you rate the overall job that President Barack Obama is doing on the economy?

    Base: All adults

    2009

    2010

    March

    April

    May

    June

    Aug

    Sept

    Nov

    Dec

    Jan

    Mar

    Apr

    May

    June

    Aug

    Sept

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    POSITIVE (NET)

    47

    49

    46

    43

    39

    40

    34

    36

    31

    32

    33

    36

    32

    32

    29

    Excellent

    13

    13

    10

    3

    9

    7

    6

    6

    5

    5

    6

    6

    5

    6

    5

    Pretty good

    34

    36

    36

    34

    31

    33

    27

    30

    25

    27

    27

    30

    27

    26

    24

    NEGATIVE (NET)

    53

    51

    54

    57

    61

    60

    66

    64

    69

    68

    67

    64

    68

    68

    71

    Only fair

    30

    27

    30

    27

    25

    27

    30

    30

    31

    30

    31

    29

    32

    29

    31

    Poor

    23

    24

    24

    30

    36

    33

    37

    34

    39

    37

    36

    34

    37

    39

    40

    2010

    2011

    2012

    Oct

    Nov

    Dec

    Jan

    Feb

    Mar

    May

    June

    July

    Sept

    Oct

    Nov

    Dec

    Jan

    Feb

    Mar

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    POSITIVE (NET)

    27

    31

    30

    33

    33

    33

    32

    27

    26

    21

    23

    22

    25

    25

    32

    32

    Excellent

    5

    5

    5

    7

    9

    5

    7

    5

    3

    2

    3

    3

    4

    2

    3

    5

    Pretty good

    22

    26

    25

    26

    24

    28

    26

    22

    23

    18

    20

    20

    22

    22

    29

    27

    NEGATIVE (NET)

    73

    69

    70

    67

    62

    67

    68

    73

    74

    79

    77

    78

    75

    75

    68

    68

    Only fair

    33

    30

    34

    30

    22

    29

    28

    30

    33

    33

    36

    32

    34

    34

    30

    29

    Poor

    39

    39

    36

    37

    39

    38

    40

    43

    41

    46

    41

    46

    41

    41

    38

    39

    2013

    2014

    Feb

    Mar

    April

    June

    July

    Sept

    Oct

    Nov

    Dec

    Jan

    Feb

    Mar

    Apr

    May

    June

    July

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    POSITIVE (NET)

    36

    33

    39

    35

    33

    29

    30

    30

    29

    28

    31

    31

    32

    35

    32

    30

    Excellent

    4

    6

    6

    5

    5

    4

    5

    6

    4

    5

    4

    5

    5

    5

    7

    7

    Pretty good

    32

    27

    32

    31

    28

    28

    25

    24

    25

    23

    27

    26

    27

    29

    25

    23

    NEGATIVE (NET)

    64

    67

    61

    65

    67

    71

    70

    70

    71

    72

    69

    69

    68

    65

    68

    70

    Only fair

    26

    26

    26

    29

    29

    31

    28

    29

    30

    30

    29

    27

    29

    26

    28

    27

    Poor

    38

    41

    35

    36

    38

    40

    42

    41

    41

    42

    40

    42

    39

    39

    40

    43

    Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding; In February 2012 Not at all sure was offered as a response choice and 4% responded in that way.


    TABLE 2

    PRESIDENT OBAMA’S JOB RATING ON THE ECONOMY – By Political Party and Generation

    Now, turning to something different, how would you rate the overall job that President Barack Obama is doing on the economy?

    Base: All adults

     

    Total

    Political Party

    Generation

    Rep.

    Dem.

    Ind.

    Millennials (18-37)

    Gen X (38-49)

    Baby Boomers (50-68)

    Matures (69+)

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    POSITIVE

    30

    6

    59

    22

    29

    30

    30

    33

    Excellent

    7

    2

    15

    3

    8

    7

    5

    7

    Pretty good

    23

    4

    44

    20

    20

    23

    25

    26

    NEGATIVE

    70

    94

    41

    78

    71

    70

    70

    67

    Only fair

    27

    15

    31

    29

    36

    27

    21

    18

    Poor

    43

    80

    10

    49

    35

    44

    49

    50

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

     

    TABLE 3

    EXPECTATIONS FOR HOUSEHOLD FINANCIAL CONDITION IN NEXT SIX MONTHS

    Thinking about your household’s financial condition, do you expect it to be better or worse in the next 6 months?

    Base: All adults

    2013

    2014

    Feb

    Mar

    April

    May

    June

    July

    Sept

    Oct

    Nov

    Jan

    Feb

    Mar

    May

    June

    July

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    BETTER (NET)

    23

    21

    22

    26

    24

    24

    19

    18

    20

    23

    22

    21

    24

    23

    23

    Much better

    3

    3

    4

    5

    4

    5

    4

    3

    4

    4

    4

    4

    5

    4

    6

    Somewhat better

    20

    17

    18

    20

    20

    19

    15

    15

    16

    18

    19

    17

    20

    19

    18

    Will remain the same

    50

    49

    49

    50

    53

    49

    52

    48

    50

    49

    52

    52

    52

    54

    51

    WORSE (NET)

    27

    30

    28

    24

    23

    26

    29

    34

    30

    29

    26

    27

    23

    23

    26

    Somewhat worse

    20

    21

    20

    18

    17

    18

    21

    24

    19

    19

    18

    19

    17

    17

    18

    Much worse

    7

    9

    8

    6

    6

    9

    8

    11

    11

    10

    8

    8

    7

    7

    8

    Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding;


    TABLE 4

    ECONOMIC CONCERNS

    Thinking of the following, how worried are you that they might occur?

    Base: Variable base

    WORRIED (NET)

    Very worried

    Somewhat worried

    NOT WORRIED (NET)

    Not that worried

    Not at all worried

    I will not have enough money for retirement.

    %

    68

    34

    32

    34

    22

    12

    I will not have enough money for one or more children to go to college.

    %

    63

    33

    31

    37

    22

    14

    I will have health care costs that I can’t afford.

    %

    63

    28

    35

    37

    23

    14

    I will not be able to afford to buy a home.

    %

    61

    35

    27

    39

    20

    19

    I will have to work later in life than I want because I won’t be able to afford to retire.

    %

    55

    27

    28

    45

    20

    25

    I will not be able to afford anything more than the basic necessities.

    %

    51

    21

    30

    49

    27

    22

    I will not have enough money for basic necessities such as food, housing, clothes and transport.

    %

    41

    16

    25

    59

    29

    30

    My spouse or I will have to take on a second job to make ends meet.

    %

    40

    15

    26

    60

    32

    28

    My child or children will have to move back in with me because they will not be able to afford housing.

    %

    36

    14

    21

    64

    31

    33

    I will lose my home because I can’t afford the mortgage payments.

    %

    23

    8

    15

    77

    34

    44

    Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100 percent due to rounding


    TABLE 5

    ECONOMIC CONCERNS

    Thinking of the following, how worried are you that they might occur?

    Percent saying Very/Somewhat worried

    Base: Variable base

    Total 2013

    Total 2014

    Generation

    Millennials (18-37)

    Gen X (38-49)

    Baby Boomers (50-68)

    Matures (69+)

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    I will not have enough money for retirement.

    72

    68

    64

    75

    63

    31

    I will not have enough money for one or more children to go to college.

    67

    63

    68

    63

    48

    I will have health care costs that I can’t afford.

    65

    63

    62

    69

    61

    42

    I will not be able to afford to buy a home.

    n/a

    61

    66

    68

    49

    27

    I will have to work later in life than I want because I won’t be able to afford to retire.

    58

    55

    64

    74

    48

    13

    I will not be able to afford anything more than the basic necessities.

    52

    51

    55

    59

    49

    33

    I will not have enough money for basic necessities such as food, housing, clothes and transport.

    41

    41

    46

    46

    39

    23

    My spouse or I will have to take on a second job to make ends meet.

    43

    40

    44

    43

    36

    15

    My child or children will have to move back in with me because they will not be able to afford housing.

    35

    36

    48

    42

    33

    11

    I will lose my home because I can’t afford the mortgage payments.

    23

    23

    32

    23

    19

    8

    Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100 percent due to rounding; – indicates no agree selections for this response

     

    Methodology

    This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between July 16 and 21, 2014 among 2,306 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

    All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

    Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

    These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

    The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll.

    The Harris Poll¨ #74, July 28, 2014

    By Regina A. Corso, VP, The Harris Poll and Public Relations Research

    About Nielsen & The Harris Poll

    On February 3, 2014, Nielsen acquired Harris Interactive and The Harris Poll. Nielsen Holdings N.V. (NYSE: NLSN) is a global information and measurement company with leading market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurement, online intelligence and mobile measurement. Nielsen has a presence in approximately 100 countries, with headquarters in New York, USA and Diemen, the Netherlands. For more information, visit www.nielsen.com.