Jan 17, 2024 - Politics & Policy
Axios Vibes

Americans are actually pretty happy with their finances

Illustration of dollar bills, upward trending arrows, percent signs, and happy emoji faces

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Americans overall have a surprising degree of satisfaction with their economic situation, according to findings from the Axios Vibes survey by The Harris Poll.

Why it matters: That's in spite of dour views among certain subsets of the country — and in contrast to consumer sentiment polls that remain stubbornly weak, partly because of the lingering effects of 2022's inflation.

  • The Axios Vibes poll has found that when asked about their own financial condition, or that of their local community, Americans are characteristically optimistic.

Be smart: It's broadly understood that economic well-being influences electoral outcomes. By the same token, however, political affiliation influences the responses that Republicans, in particular, give when they're asked about the economy.

  • So asking about personal finances rather than the broader economy can reveal optimism not seen in consumer-sentiment polls.

Axios Vibe Check: How people feel about their economic prospects: 😁

By the numbers: 63% of Americans rate their current financial situation as being "good," including 19% of us who say it's "very good."

  • Neither number is particularly low: They're both entirely in line with the average result the past 20 times Harris Poll has asked this question.
  • The survey's findings were based on a nationally representative sample of 2,120 U.S. adults conducted online between Dec. 15-17, 2023. (More on the methodology.)

Americans' outlooks for the future are also rosy. 66% think that 2024 will be better than 2023, and 85% of us feel we could change our personal financial situation for the better this year.

  • That's in line with Wall Street estimates, which have penciled in continued growth in both GDP and real wages for the rest of the year.

Stunning stat: 77% of Americans are happy with where they're living — including renters, who have seen their housing costs surge over the last few years and are far more likely than homeowners to describe their financial situation as poor.

  • Indeed, a substantial majority of renters are happy renting, with 63% of them saying they're not interested in homeowning and having a mortgage.
  • The reality is similarly upbeat. Asking rents finally started falling rather than rising recently. That, of course, is great news for renters.
  • Meanwhile, most mortgages carry very low interest rates of below 4%, and homes have soared in value — so homeowners are sitting pretty too.

More than half of Americans say that if they lost their job tomorrow they'd be OK; that they could find an equivalent or better job quickly; and that "my employers need me more than I need them."

  • 63% of respondents describe their job security as "a sure thing."
  • That shouldn't be surprising, given that the number of job openings in America is still much higher than at any point before the pandemic.

The bottom line: Americans who believe their community's economy is strong outnumber those who think it's weak. They're right.

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