retail news in context, analysis with attitude

National Public Radio has released the results of what it calls the Marketplace-Edison Research Poll, which is designed "to explain a conundrum in the American economy" - the fact that, despite continued improvement in the economy, "there’s still discontent among many Americans about their personal economic situations."

According to the poll, respondents expressed a number of concerns:

• "63 percent said they are sometimes or frequently anxious about their financial situation"

• "42 percent said they feel stuck in their current financial situation"

• "27 percent said they are not financially secure"

• "28 percent said their personal financial situation causes them to lose sleep"

The report goes on:

"More than 10 percent fear being unable to make a car payment, more than 10 percent fear being unable to make a mortgage payment, more than 25 percent fear being unable to pay rent and more than 33 percent fear not being able to make a student loan payment.

"More than 30 percent have 'a lot' of fear over not having enough saved for retirement, nearly a quarter fear facing an unexpected medical bill and more than 20 percent fear not being able to afford college for their children. More than 38 percent have at least a little fear about losing their job in the next 12 months, and more than 11 percent say if they lost their jobs, they are not at all confident they could find a new one in the next six months."

There also "was a significant group who regretted the amount of college debt they acquired, with 38 percent saying that taking on debt for their education was not worth it."

The concerns tend to be higher in certain demographic groups than others - Hispanics and African-Americans are more worried than whites, and people 25-34 and those making less that $25,000 a year more worried than people older and making more money ... which seems completely reasonable. At the same time, people paid an hourly wage seem more concerned than those on salary.
KC's View:
All this seems sort of depressing until one gets toward the end of the Marketplace report, in which it says that "respondents expressed a sense of optimism despite the insecurity that many feel, with 79 percent saying hard work plays a bigger role than luck in getting ahead and 72 percent agreeing that they feel they have a fair opportunity to achieve the life they hope for."

As Shakespeare might've said: "Aye, there's the rub..."

The survey also found "broad support for the government’s role in providing a social safety net, with more than three quarters agreeing that the federal government should be providing unemployment benefits to those who lose their job, food stamps to the poor, college tuition assistance to low- and middle-income families, subsidies for health care benefits and job training programs."