How has the boom/bust economy of recent years affected Americans' perennial optimism? A BusinessWeek/Harris Poll of 1,022 adults, conducted July 20-25, found that most Americans believe the good times will return soon. Still, this outlook is tempered by a sense that the Brave New World of technology may not be quite the panacea it was once thought to be. Here's the complete poll (a shorter version was included in the print edition):
Now, for the turnaround
How optimistic or pessimistic are you that the U.S. can avoid a lengthy downturn marked by more large-scale job layoffs, further weakness in the stock market, and a decline in Americans' living standards?
Very optimistic 13% Very pessimistic 8% Somewhat optimistic 50% Not Sure/Refused 7% Somewhat pessimistic 23%
On a scale from 1 to 7, where 7 means "The country's economy is extremely strong", 4 means "The economy is neither growing nor shrinking," and 1 means "The country is in a severe recession", where do you think the country is headed?
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Not Sure/Refused 9% 5% 18% 31% 23% 7% 3% 4%
How much do you agree or disagree with the following statements--do you strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, or strongly disagree?
Investors must be willing to bear greater financial risks to assure higher return on investments
STRONGLY SOMEWHAT SOMEWHAT STRONGLY NOT SURE/ AGREE AGREE DISAGREE DISAGREE REFUSED 29% 41% 17% 8% 5%
The federal government should take a more activist role in assuring economic growth
STRONGLY SOMEWHAT SOMEWHAT STRONGLY NOT SURE/ AGREE AGREE DISAGREE DISAGREE REFUSED 39% 33% 16% 8% 3%
People got too carried away with the promise of technology to improve their lives
STRONGLY SOMEWHAT SOMEWHAT STRONGLY NOT SURE/ AGREE AGREE DISAGREE DISAGREE REFUSED 39% 35% 15% 9% 2%
Shakier now than before...
Are you more or less confident in the economy today than you were a year ago?
More confident 24 Less confident 60 No difference 15 Not Sure/Refused 2
...But the future is ours
How confident are you that after the economic downturn ends, America can return to rapid economic growth, rising incomes, and good job opportunities?
Very confident 21% Not at all confident 5% Somewhat confident 55% Not Sure/Refused 2% Not very confident 17%
What about your kids' tomorrow?
Do you expect your children will have a better life than you have had, a worse life, or a life about as good as yours?
July 2001 July 2000 Better life 42 50 Worse life 17 15 About as good 32 26 No children 4 5 Not sure/Refused 5 3
A question of leadership
How would you rate the job these people or groups are doing?
PRETTY ONLY NOT SURE/ EXCELLENT GOOD FAIR POOR REFUSED President Bush 10% 36% 32% 16% 6% Democrats in the U.S. Congress 2% 30% 43% 14% 10% Republicans in the U.S. Congress 3% 31% 42% 14% 11% Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan 12% 41% 24% 9% 14% Leaders of American Business 4% 32% 40% 15% 10%
On privatizing Social Security
President Bush supports partial privatization of Social Security, which he would accomplish by letting individuals invest a portion of payroll taxes in stocks and other investments, with the goal to raise investment returns and assure a better retirement system. How strongly do you support or oppose this proposal?
Strongly support 26% Somewhat support 30% Somewhat oppose 17% Strongly oppose 22% Not Sure/Refused 5%
Which of the following statements comes closest to your views?
I support the privatization of Social Security more today due to the current state of the economy 39% I oppose the privatization of Social Security more today due to the current state of the economy 34% No difference 20% Not Sure/Refused 7%