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Economic Anxiety Index®

The disconnect between Obama’s speech and how we feel

Sarah Menendez Jan 13, 2016

President Obama spent about 11 minutes discussing the economy in Tuesday night’s State of the Union address and he did not shy away from celebrating the job growth and economic recovery that has happened during his time in office. However, the president also spoke about the ways in which average Americans may not feel the recovery in their lives.

We took a look at what Obama had to say about the economy and compared it to results from Marketplace-Edison Research Poll from the fall to see how the President’s comments stack up to how Americans say they feel.  


“Now, what is true — and the reason that a lot of Americans feel anxious — is that the economy has been changing in profound ways, changes that started long before the Great Recession hit; changes that have not let up.”

The President is right, even though the economy had improved, it doesn’t always feel like it.  According to our poll, 63 percent of respondents said they are sometimes or frequently anxious about their financial situation.  


“It’s made it harder for a hardworking family to pull itself out of poverty, harder for young people to start their careers, tougher for workers to retire when they want to.”

Our survey found that 42 percent said they feel stuck in their current financial situation 

Job Security

“But there should be other ways parties can work together to improve economic security. Say a hardworking American loses his job — we shouldn’t just make sure that he can get unemployment insurance; we should make sure that program encourages him to retrain for a business that’s ready to hire him.  If that new job doesn’t pay as much, there should be a system of wage insurance in place so that he can still pay his bills. And even if he’s going from job to job, he should still be able to save for retirement and take his savings with him.  That’s the way we make the new economy work better for everybody.”

Our respondents said they favor — in general — the social safety net. The poll found that 88 percent think that the government should provide unemployment benefits and job training. the poll also found that 27 percent said they are not financially secure and 38 percent have at least a little fear about losing their job in the next year. 


“And we have to make college affordable for every American. No hardworking student should be stuck in the red.  We’ve already reduced student loan payments to 10 percent of a borrower’s income.  And that’s good.  But now, we’ve actually got to cut the cost of college. Providing two years of community college at no cost for every responsible student is one of the best ways to do that, and I’m going to keep fighting to get that started this year.”

We also found that college debt was a source of stress and uncertainty for people at various ages. Nearly two-fifths of our respondents  said taking on debt for their education was not worth it. And there’s a lot of worry when it comes to paying the debt back – 33 percent fear not being able to make a student loan payment, while 20 percent fear not being able to afford college for their children.

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