American adults, whether or not they had kids, aren’t very optimistic about young Americans’ futures, particularly when it comes to personal finance.
Respondents were seemingly in a sour mood when they were surveyed for the quarterly Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll. Of 1,000 Americans ages 18 and older, 64% said they believed the country is on the wrong track, and President Barack Obama received a 40% approval rating. That’s the lowest it has been since the poll began in April 2009. FTI Consulting conducted the poll from Sept. 3 to 7 and it has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1%.
On a positive note, the majority of respondents are generally in good spirits. When asked to consider all aspects of their lives, including personal finance, family and health, 82% of adults said their lives are going well. That’s the same as the responses in June. (Most questions in this poll had a “don’t know/refused” answer option.)
Youths presented a sunny disposition. The poll included an online survey of 13- to 18-year-olds for the first time, and they were optimistic about the economy. More than half of teens (54%) said they think it’s better to be a teenager now than it was when their parents were, and 45% think they’ll have more opportunities as adults than their parents have.
The adults, 77% of whom have children, did not agree. Given this sullen outlook on the future of America, we decided to highlight 10 finance-related statistics suitable for a Debbie Downer script.
10 Gloomy Outlooks on America’s Money Future
- 56% say their personal financial situation is only fair or poor. Only 7% say it is excellent.
- 43% say their personal finance situation will be the same next year. On the upside, 43% think their situation will improve. Unfortunately, 12% foresee things getting worse.
- 54% said it is not realistic for them to pay for their children’s college educations. Contributing to that number, 32% of adults said it is not at all realistic that they would pay for college.
- 49% say it is not realistic that they could afford six months of living expenses, in the event of an unexpected illness or job loss. Again, a large share of respondents say it’s not at all likely they could afford such a loss in income.
- 45% of adults think children will have less opportunity to get ahead when they reach their age. Unfortunately, only 20% think children will have more opportunity, and 30% think children will have the same amount as they have. It’s worth noting that the report showed responses from past quarters for questions outlined in Nos. 1 through 5. When compared to the responses from June 2013, responses related to these five statistics were more pessimistic in September.
- 39% see a college education as an economic burden that is often too expensive or requires taking on debt to pay for it. That’s certainly a depressing way to look at college. On the other hand, the majority (53%) saw it as the ticket to the middle class that helps people build successful careers.
- 53% think children will have less financial responsibility than they do. They also think these children will have inferior spending and saving habits.
- 62% think children will be less likely than they are to enjoy a comfortable retirement. For comparison, when adults were asked about their own retirement, 58% said they expect to maintain a comfortable standard of living when exiting the workforce.
- 68% think children will experience less financial security than their generation. This includes holding a steady job and owning a home without too much debt.
- 63% think children will show less work ethic, professional motivation and pride in their jobs than they do. Maybe that’s why adults think children will have such bleak financial futures. For the record, the majority also think children will be less patriotic, and many also think children will not fulfill civic and community responsibilities as they do — like voting and volunteering.
Here’s an 11th gloomy stat that’s not strictly finance related: Adults think it was better to be a kid and parent when they were kids.
This comes in two parts that almost amount to a “Back in my day …” cliché. When it comes to childhood in America, 79% of adults said it was better when they were children. And when comparing being a parent now and parenthood in a previous generation, 79% thought it was better to be a parent when their parents were raising kids.
Kids these days …