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Prosperity Overshadowed By Concern

Sun., April 16, 1995

Many Americans are worrying less about the status of their pocketbooks, yet believe the country is on a long-term slide and don’t trust government a whit.

Money magazine’s 10th poll on “Americans and Their Money” highlights the pessimism about the future that people feel even amid evidence that the economy is growing at a healthy clip.

In one telling sign about people’s view of the future - or perhaps just about a belief in their own luck - 11 percent of the 1,416 respondents said the best way to get rich was to play the lottery.

“This puzzling sense of gloom amid relative prosperity pervades the results of our 1995 Americans and Their Money poll,” said the magazine, which published the national poll in its May issue.

The problem worries President Clinton, whose approval ratings have sagged while the economy has expanded.

People “read these good economic numbers. Well, they ask, when it is going to make me happy? … When do I get a raise?” the president said in an interview with Money concerning the survey results.

The survey was conducted for Money by Willard & Shullman, a Greenwich, Conn. research firm, and was based on mailed responses from what the magazine described as household decisionmakers. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percent.

All in all, Americans were fretting less about money than last year, the results showed.

An unexpected $1,000 bill would cause trouble for only 39 percent, down from 48 percent last year. Fifty-five percent said they worry often about money, compared with 61 percent last year.

Even the specter of layoffs amid the continued trend in downsizing spooked fewer Americans. Sixtyfour percent of those polled said they’d have trouble finding a new job if they lost theirs, compared with 74 percent last year.

Yet many feel anything but sanguine about the future, the surveyed showed.

In a clear sign of pessimism, 45 percent of those surveyed felt they would have just enough or not enough money to live on in their retirement years.

What can be done to help the U.S. economy? Most of those polled didn’t have much faith in Washington, although they did have some suggestions of their own.

Asked for their views on the politicians and bureaucrats in the capital, 89 percent said they don’t trust them to make the right decisions and only 19 percent said they’re getting their money’s worth from the federal government.

The top priority for Clinton and the Congress should be balancing the federal budget, according to 61 percent of respondents. That compared with 31 percent last year.

Tags: economy

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