U.S. News

Survey: 40% of Wealthiest Americans Optimistic About Economy

Robert Melstein, Development Producer

According to a just-released poll, 40 percent of affluent Americans are now optimistic about the U.S. economy, the highest level of optimism in nearly six months. However, only three-in-ten think 2012 will be a good year for business.

Stack of U.S. hundred-dollar bills

The results come from the December 2011 Ipsos Mendelsohn Affluent Barometer. The Barometer studies the lifestyles, spending patterns and media habits of today’s affluent Americans. Ipsos defines affluent adults as those who have household income of $100,000 or more.

The percentage of affluent Americans who are feeling very or somewhat optimistic about the state of economy (40 percent) has risen for three consecutive months — up from just 30 percent in September 2011. Ipsos reports that the increase in optimism has been spurred on by the perceived improvements in the job market and consumer spending; 37 percent of the wealthiest Americans are pessimistic about the economy, fueled by government dysfunction and debt concerns.

Despite the positive trend of optimism, less than one-third (30 percent) of the wealthiest Americans think 2012 will be a good year for the overall U.S. economy. While this is a disturbingly low figure, only 8 percent think 2011 was a good year for the economy — this is an increase of 22 percentage points, so at least it’s a step in the right direction.

Some other highlights from the Ipsos Mendelsohn Affluents Barometer:

Only 7 percent think the recession is already over for the U.S. as a whole; 53 percent are not expecting a full recovery until 2013 or later.

78 percent of high-income households are extremely/very concerned about government spending at the federal level

The wealthiest Americans want government to stay on the sidelines when it comes to shrinking the income gap among Americans. In a CNBC exclusive question included in the Affluent Barometer, nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of those polled want the Federal government to play a minor role or no role at all when it comes to making the gap between the highest income workers and middle/lower income workers smaller.

When it comes to investments, gold is still at the top of the charts, as compared to real estate, . 46 percent think gold is an excellent or good investment, though this is down from 55 percent in September 2011.

In terms of stocks, 39 percent think it’s a good time to invest in the stock market, mostly due to low prices. Those that are spending money in the markets say technology is the leading sector to invest in. But market pessimists fear more instability and volatility, which is why they are keeping cash out of equities.

As for New Year’s resolutions, the wealthiest Americans do have something in common with those who earn less than them. Saving money, losing weight and spending more time with the family top the list of the affluents’ specific goals for 2012.

(Methodology: 1,041 respondents interviewed online. Conducted December 16-29, 2011. National sample of adults 18+ with HHI $100K+. Weighted and balanced to U.S. Census data)


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