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Harris Poll: Americans Are Worried About Economy Among Other Things

6a00d8341bf7d953ef019104b68e14970c-350wiNEW YORK, July 28, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- 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.

(To see the full results including data tables, click here)

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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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