Despite the recession being officially over and unemployment the lowest it has been since 2007, the recovery has been felt unevenly. Barry Ritholtz in Bloomberg View explained why Americans hate the recovery from the Great Recession: many people are still unemployed or underemployed, and any wage increases have mostly been wiped away by escalating housing and healthcare costs.
It is unsurprising, therefore, that our survey shows that Americans believe the American Dream—from finding a well-paying job to supporting a family—is becoming more difficult to attain compared to their parents. Overall, 60 percent of respondents said that it is more difficult to find a well-paying job compared to their parents. The exception is the Silent Generation (ages 72 and over), whose parents grew up during the Great Depression.
This pattern also holds true when respondents are asked if it is becoming harder to afford a family than in previous generations. Overall, 64 percent of Americans believe it has become more difficult. In stark contrast, only 40 percent of the Silent Generation agrees.
Only about half of Americans (51 percent) believe that there are lots of well-paying jobs that do not require a college degree. Members of Generation X, who are in their prime earning years, are the least likely Americans to believe there are lots of well-paying jobs that do not require a college degree.
And while Americans are split on whether or not there are well-paying jobs available without a college degree, there is wide agreement (75 percent) that it is easier to be successful with a degree than without. Generation Z, which is just entering higher education or the workforce, overwhelmingly believes this to be the case (84 percent agree).
About half of Americans believe society respects those with a college degree more than those without. For the younger generations, this is especially the case: only 37 percent of Generation Z, 32 percent of Millennials, and 35 percent of Generation X believe that American society respects those who have not gone to college.