Wealth In America: Poll Finds Americans Optimistic

Wednesday, 14 Mar 2007 | 2:44 PM ET
Supporters are silhouetted on a flag as they listen to Vice President Dick Cheney speak at a town hall meeting, Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2004 in Dubuque, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Charlie Neibergall
Supporters are silhouetted on a flag as they listen to Vice President Dick Cheney speak at a town hall meeting, Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2004 in Dubuque, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Despite the recent market volatility and concerns over the housing market, Americans are still optimistic about the future, according to CNBC’s exclusive Wealth in America poll. Senior economics reporter Steve Liesman appeared on "Power Lunch," with the first look at the results.

The poll of 800 Americans was conducted over the weekend and the results show that the majority of Americas are satisfied with their lives and standards of livings. However, the report also shows that Americans are concerned about inflation, wage growth, social security and rising gas prices. Of those Americans who own stocks, 60% expect the value of their portfolios to increase, while only 8% believe a big drop in the market is a serious concern.

Exclusive: Wealth in America
The findings of CNBC's first-ever Wealth in America Survey, with Steve Liesman, CNBC senior economics editor; Thomas Melcher, Hawthorn, PNC's Unit for High Net Worth Clients CIO; Bruce Kasman, JP Morgan chief U.S. economist and CNBC's Bill Griffeth

How are you doing?
Americans were asked how their lives were going, and to rate their happiness on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the happiest. Results show 61% rate their lives between an 8 and 10. The most 10s came from the wealthy, seniors and women over the age of 50. Thirty percent rate their lives between a 5 and 7, while 8% rate their lives between a 1 and a 4. Those making less than $30,000 annually were among the less happy.

Standard of Living
Twenty-two percent of Americans said they were living beyond their dreams, while half said their standard of living meets their expectations. One in three said their standard of living does not meet their expectations.

Jobs and Wages
The poll found a direct correlation between economic happiness and happiness in the workplace. While 69% said they are in jobs that use most of their abilities, one in three believe they are in jobs that do not best utilize their skills.

According to the report, Americans generally have a negative outlook regarding wages: Only 52% think their wages will increase over the year -- and only by a median of 2%. People believe their wages will succumb to inflation over the next year, 75% thinking prices will rise by a median of 4%.

“The report showed an air of realism in the market that was encouraging,” said Thomas Melcer, CIO of Hawthorn, the high net worth unit of PNC. Melcer and Bruce Kasman, chief economist with J.P. Morgan, joined Liesman to discuss the poll’s findings. Kasman believed that one of the most positive findings was that skilled labor was doing well -- but also noted “unskilled is not doing well.”

“Like it or not, the high-wage people make up the most in consumer spending and high-wage economy activity in general,” said Melcer.

Americans are most worried about rising gas prices, followed by fear of recession and the social security system going bankrupt. A decline in home prices worries only 3% of Americans.


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Kenny Polcari