Fully 50% of Americans believe they will be “upper middle class” or “well off” in five to 10 years, even though only 16% currently describe themselves in those terms, according to the latest quarterly Citibank Economic Pulse survey issued Friday.
In other findings, American’s outlook on the economy, local business conditions and their own financial situation has deteriorated, with 65% today viewing themselves as “just keeping even” rather than “upwardly” or “downwardly” mobile, as they struggle with rising gas, food and healthcare costs.
The telephone survey of 2,010 adults nationally, conducted April 8−14 by Hart Research Associates, found that Americans remain optimistic about their future economic prospects, despite a significant drop in their overall outlook on the economy since January. In fact, while 24% describe themselves today as “upwardly mobile,” 47% believe they will be in a higher economic group than they are in now within the next five to 10 years.
Conversely, while 44% currently label themselves as “poor” or “working class,” compared with 16% upper middle class or well off and 39% middle class, only 32% believe it is very or somewhat likely they will be lower middle class, poor or below the poverty line in the next five to 10 years.
“Despite a sluggish economic recovery, the survey reveals a silver lining that Americans are markedly optimistic that the future will be brighter for themselves and their families,” Michelle Peluso, chief global consumer marketing and Internet officer at Citi, said in a statement. “As people do their best to ‘keep even,’ they continue to hope and expect that, over the longer term, the economy will improve and they will be able to advance and achieve.”
The Citibank Economic Pulse, which combines eight survey questions into a single measure of overall economic status and future outlook, declined six points to -12, erasing the eight-point gain in January. All components of the survey moved downward in relation to last year except Americans’ assessment of their own personal financial situation, which held steady, and comfort with their level of debt, which moved up three points. The biggest drivers of change are Americans’ view of what will happen over the next 12 months.