Commentators may be expressing optimism about the economy, but many Americans apparently don't see it that way.
Only 64 percent of the 1,006 adults polled by The New York Times
said they still believe in the American dream. That's the worst reading in about 20 years. Even at the peak of the financial crisis in early 2009, 72 percent of Americans still believed hard work could produce wealth for them.
"Things have changed a lot," Michael Herdmann, a 54-year-old retired public works employee in Ohio, told The Times. "The decks have been stacked against not only the lower class but also the lower middle class."
Nearly half of the respondents believe the economy is in good condition, including 6 percent who say it is very good and 40 percent who say it is fairly good, while 29 percent say it is fairly bad and 22 percent say it is very bad.
While 43 percent believe the economy is staying about the same, 30 percent say it is getting better and 26 percent say it is getting worse.
Jobs may not be so much the issue now, with non-farm payrolls rising more than 200,000 for 10 straight months. But wages have been stagnant since the financial crisis ended.
Average hourly wages rose only 2.1 percent in the year ended in November, barely outstripping the 1.7 percent increase for consumer prices in the year ended in October.
To be sure, millionaires are more upbeat. More than 50 percent of those with investible assets of $1 million and up think the economy will strengthen in the next year, up from 42 percent six months ago, according to a CNBC survey
conducted in November by Spectrem Group.
So what accounts for the increased enthusiasm?
Accelerating job growth, the continuing ascent of stock prices and some degree of political certainty now that the mid-term elections are over, Tom Wynn, director of affluent research for Spectrem, told CNBC.
© 2021 Newsmax Finance. All rights reserved.