Economic Anxiety Index®

Poll finds Americans’ economic anxiety reaches new high

Kai Ryssdal Oct 13, 2016
frankieleon/Visual hunt
Economic Anxiety Index®

Poll finds Americans’ economic anxiety reaches new high

Kai Ryssdal Oct 13, 2016
frankieleon/Visual hunt

It’s been a year.


A long year, both in this economy and in the campaign.


Last October, Marketplace launched our first-ever national economic survey, the Marketplace-Edison Research Poll. We did it so that we could find out and track — over time — how people are feeling about the economy all through this election year and heading into the voting booth. And find out we did.


Over the past year, we’ve learned about the economic things that keep Americans up at night. (Thirty-nine percent of us lose sleep over our finances — 11 percentage points higher than it was a year ago).


We’ve learned that 28 percent of Americans are afraid of not being able to pay their mortgages — that’s up from 10 percent a year ago.


And we’ve learned that almost half of all Americans with full- or part-time jobs – 48 percent — say they’re working “just a job” and not part of a career development path.


There’s way more in there:


The steep jump in our Economic Anxiety Index in the past year. What Americans think makes a “good” job. How much we trust — or don’t — government economic statistics, like the unemployment rate. The sharp differences in how Trump voters and Clinton voters see the economy.


Today we’re releasing the fourth and final wave of our survey — the last real snapshot of how Americans are feeling about this economy in the countdown to Election Day.


There’s lots of good data in there — dig in.


Key Findings:


Using responses to the Marketplace-Edison Research Poll, Marketplace and Edison Research created the Economic Anxiety Index ®, a number on a scale from 0-100 that is calculated from answers to a battery of questions. The Economic Anxiety Index ® describes just how stressed out people feel about their personal financial situation. The higher the number, the more economic stress someone is feeling.


  • The Economic Anxiety Index® is now 36, up 20 percent from a year ago.
  • More Americans are increasingly worried about losing their jobs, the ability to pay their mortgage or rent and saving for retirement. Thirty percent of Americans are very fearful that they will lose their job in the next six months, up from 10 percent a year ago.
  • More than a third of Americans, 39 percent, say their personal financial situation actually causes them to lose sleep. 
  • One quarter of Americans completely distrust the economic data reported by the federal government, including statistics like the unemployment rate, the number of jobs added and the amount of consumer spending.
  • Almost half of Donald Trump supporters (48 percent) completely distrust the economic data reported by the federal government, compared to only 5 percent of Hillary Clinton supporters.
  • Sixty-four percent of Americans are frequently or sometimes anxious about their financial situation, and only 34 percent of Americans feel financially secure.


Economic Fairness


Is the economy rigged in favor of certain groups? A majority of Americans, 62 percent, think it is. Majorities of all demographic groups agree, including Democrats, Republicans, Independents and all income levels.


There is consensus as to whom the economy is rigged to benefit. A majority of respondents who think the economy is rigged agree — it is rigged for the rich, politicians, banks and bank executives, and corporations. However, supporters of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump differ dramatically on how the rigged economic system is benefiting other subgroups.


  • Sixty-six percent of Trump supporters say the economy is rigged for people who receive government assistance, compared to 32 percent of Clinton supporters; 62 percent of Clinton supporters say the economy is rigged for whites, while only 21 percent of Trump supporters say so.


Partisan Findings


  • More than two-thirds of Americans — 68 percent — are either dissatisfied or angry with elected officials in Washington, D.C.
  • Despite the dissatisfaction with elected officials in Washington as a whole, 52 percent approve of the way President Barack Obama is handling the economy.


Even with a presidential election coming up, Americans are split as to whether they can influence the government. Half of all Americans say that there is not much people can do to influence the government in Washington, and half say that people who are willing to make the effort can influence the government.


  • Clinton supporters are more hopeful, however — with 59 percent saying that if they make the effort, they can influence the government, compared with 44 percent of Trump supporters.


Dissatisfaction with the current candidates for president has steadily increased over the past year as the nominees have emerged from the primaries and the general election has taken shape.


  • Fifty-two percent of Americans are dissatisfied by the candidates for president, up from 35 percent in February, in the middle of the primary election season.
  • When asked to describe the presidential election, 71 percent of Americans thought the word “afraid” describes it well. However, more than half of Americans — 55 percent — thought the word “hopeful” also describes it well.


Marketplace-Edison Research Poll Methodology


More information on the survey data here.


The Marketplace-Edison Research Poll is a national survey of Americans ages 18 years and older. A total of 1,036 respondents were interviewed with 501 interviews conducted by telephone and 535 interviews conducted online. Among the telephone interviews, 250 were conducted via a landline phone and 251 interviews conducted via a cell phone so that we could achieve the proper proportion of coverage of households in the United States that do not have a landline phone. The landline and cell phone sample of phone numbers and the email addresses for the online survey were provided by Survey Sampling International.


The telephone interviews were conducted from Oct. 1 to 8, 2016.


The data was weighted to match the most recent United States population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau for age, gender, race and region of the country.

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