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Poll: The American Dream is out of reach

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The American Dream is impossible to achieve in this country.

So say nearly 6 in 10 people who responded to CNNMoney’s American Dream Poll, conducted by ORC International. They feel the dream — however they define it — is out of reach.

Young adults, age 18 to 34, are most likely to feel the dream is unattainable, with 63% saying it’s impossible. This age group has suffered in the wake of the Great Recession, finding it hard to get good jobs.

Younger Americans are a cause of great concern. Many respondents said they are worried about the next generation’s ability to prosper.

Some 63% of all Americans said most children in the U.S. won’t be better off than their parents. This dour view comes despite most respondents, 54%, feeling they are better off than their own parents.

The downbeat mood is not surprising, say economic mobility experts.

“The pessimism is reflective of the financial realities a lot of families are facing,” said Erin Currier, the director of the Economic Mobility Project at Pew Charitable Trusts. “They are treading water, but their income is not translating into solid financial security.”

american dream poll better off

The vast majority of Americans have higher incomes than their parents, but that’s in large part because most families have two earners now, she said. Only half have more wealth, she said. Meanwhile, the savings rate is low and unemployment is high. College costs are rising faster than inflation andstudent loan debt is exploding.

People also tend to be more pessimistic about the next generation’s fortunes in general than their own children’s prospects, Currier said. In Pew’s polls and focus groups, parents say that it will be tougher for their children to succeed, but they still believe it’s possible.

Perceptions, however, aren’t supported by the facts, experts said.

Read the full CNN/ORC poll results

The American Dream is not dead, said Ron Haskins, co-director of the Brookings Center on Children and Families.

Two landmark studies released earlier this year concluded that mobility is worse in the U.S. than in many other developed countries, but has not changed significantly over time. Researchers found significant differences in mobility across the nation. Those who live in areas with higher economic growth, better schools and fewer African-American residents have a greater chance to climb the economic ladder.

“Mobility is an issue, but it hasn’t gotten any worse,” Haskins said.

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  • Joe

    Just remember that Obama/Biden and the Democrats have made everything worse and the future even worse than it would have been without them and the corruption.

    Hey I got an Idea, lets open the flood gates on the Mexican Border and invite all the world's poor and their criminals to come in massive waves.

    • Travis

      Isnt that already happening Joe?
      The American dream is dead for those looking to make a life on minimum wage or a handout, however for those of us who work hard and climb the ladder, the american dream is very attainable.
      P.S. the American Dream isnt the promise of success, its the oppurtunity to be a success if you put in the work.

      • Joe

        Why do people on minimum wage have to compete with illegal aliens for those jobs and/or pay taxes to put illegal aliens on welfare and/or the 17 Trillion dollar debt off of the backs of those getting ready to pay taxes for the rest of their life?

    • Ted

      Repubs have blocked any legislation for schools for 10 years, and now we are starting to feel the effects. If the ‘american people’ care so much, try passing school levys, as a start. Then get your idiot republican representative to accept federal funding for the advancement of education for our kids. @Joe,..your blood lust for all things democrat, has got your party stuck in mud, so much so you won’t even help your own children get a better education. Obstruct, lie, blame the other side when nothing works. Right @Joe, it sounds like you have your fox news strategy down pat.

  • guest

    tell everyone to come to seattle, you don't have to work for it they are going to hand you the dream,$15. to flip burgers in an entry level job!

  • Ted

    What a bag o’ hammers you guys are, you create the the probem then start chanting ‘the libruls did it, the libruls did it.” And you think you have something to stand for. The three words you will never hear,….”Republican Solution Commitee”,…