Huff Post/YouGov Poll: Work Ethic Not to Blame for Joblessness

Thursday, 17 Apr 2014 04:45 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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While some may believe people are poor and jobless because of their personal failures, most Americans believe people's opportunities are what account for their successes or failures, a new poll reveals.

The Huffington Post/YouGov poll released on Thursday shows that 44 percent of the 1,000 adults surveyed believe people are poor because they lacked opportunities, while 30 percent said people are poor because of their individual failures.

The poll showed 47 percent said poverty is caused by the lack of good jobs, while 28 percent blamed poverty on people's work ethic.

Likewise, 52 percent of those questioned said rich people are rich because they have better opportunities, but 31 percent said their wealth comes from working harder than other people do.

But coming up with jobs is a different story. About half of the respondents said most people are trying to find jobs but can't, while 36 percent said most could find jobs if they want to. On the other hand, 45 percent said they believe people who have been unemployed more than six months are trying to find jobs but aren't able to, and 41 percent said the long-term unemployed should be able to find jobs.

Democrats and independents differed from Republicans on their opinions of the wealthy and poor, believing the rich, poor and unemployed are there because of outside events beyond their control. Republicans tended to believe, by 48 percent to 23 percent, that the poor remain poor through their own fault.

The opinion supported in a way comments made last month by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, who said men who live in inner cities suffer from a culture that does not encourage hard work – or work of any kind.

"We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work," the Wisconsin Republican said on Bill Bennett's "Morning in America" radio show.

In the survey, 58 percent of the Republicans surveyed said they believe unemployed people can find jobs if they want to, and rich people get rich because they work harder, not because they have more opportunities.

Republicans also tended to believe that people stay unemployed because of their poor work ethic, not due to the lack of jobs.

But wealthier people, with incomes of more than $100,000 a year, disagree, with 49 percent saying the rich have more opportunities, and they're not rich because they work harder.

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