People Have Faith in Their Finances as Economy Improves

Pamela Moore/

Almost half of working-age registered voters surveyed this year (47 percent) expect their financial situations to improve over six months, considerably more than the roughly two-thirds (37 percent) who say their monetary situations will remain the same, Morning Consult polling shows.

Very few (11 percent) expect to have less money.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday that 215,000 jobs were added to the U.S. economy in March, a s0lid figure akin to the previous month’s job growth and slightly higher than economists’ predictions. Unemployment is still at 5 percent, which is considered healthy for the country. Unsurprisingly, jobs increased in retail, construction, and health care, but they decreased in manufacturing and mining. On the whole, the jobs picture looks pretty good.

Voters are reflecting these positive vibes in their own lives. Very few expect that their workplaces will downsize (5 percent) or that they will work fewer hours (8 percent) over the next six months. Almost one-third of respondents (29 percent) expect their employers to add more workers, and 42 percent say they will probably work more hours.

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About one-third of workers expect to move up the career ladder in the next six months. They say they will take a new job for more money (10 percent), receive a raise or bonus (13 percent), or work more hours to make more money (12 percent.) About one-fifth (21 percent) say they will stay in the same job for the same pay.

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The rosy attitude about peoples’ personal finances is surprising considering the exit polling from voters — particularly Republicans — who believe the country is tanking economically. As in most presidential elections, the economy is the driving force behind voters’ choice of a candidate. This year comes with an especially heightened sense of anxiety, likely a hangover from the recent recession.

Not surprisingly, the presidential field’s major talking points are about the economy. For Democrats, it’s about helping the little guy. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) calls the country’s gap between the rich and poor the moral issue of our time. Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton echoes that sentiment, saying she wants to build an economy that works for everyone, “not just those at the top.” Republican front-runner Donald Trump says he would shun free trade agreements because they cause job losses.

There may be dissatisfaction in the country, but it is not typicaly reflected among people’s feelings about their own personal finances. Among working-age respondents who believe the country is headed in the “wrong direction,” a notable 41 percent also said they expect their personal financial situation to improve. Four out of 10 said they expect no change, and only 14 percent expect their monetary situations to get worse in the next six months.

For people who think the country is heading in the right direction, a health majority (58 percent) say their own financial situations will improve, and 31 percent say it will remain the same. Very few (5 percent) expect it to get worse.

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Morning Consult has been polling on people’s views of their financial situation since November 2015, and the results are largely consistent over time. That may be because both the unemployment rate and the Consumer Price Index have remained steady over time, meaning that most people’s individual costs aren’t shifting dramatically unless they had a job change.


The public also generally believes that improvement in their finances, and their lives, is possible with hard work. That’s an indication that perhaps voters aren’t so gloomy after all, even if they don’t like the person sitting in the White House or the people who are angling to be the next president.

In Morning Consult’s most recent poll, 61 percent of voters said people can get ahead if they are willing to work hard, while only 34 percent said hard work and determination is no guarantee of success. Republican voters (71 percent) are more likely than Democrats (53 percent) to believe that hard work will allow people to get ahead.

Morning Consult’s polling on personal finances was conducted from January through March among 12,555 registered voters. Voters age 65 and over were removed from the sample to more accurately gauge working-age adults’ views of their employment.

The most recent polling on people’s views about getting ahead was conducted on March 15 among a national sample of 4,027 voters.

Morning Consult