Optimism Hits A One-Year High

Half of Affluents are now optimistic about the U.S. economy, solidifying the significant increase observed in February 2012, and marking the highest level in a year, according to our March survey. The study was conducted online March 20-28, 2012 with 1,000 Affluent individuals, defined as adults living in households with at least $100,000 in annual household income. 

Concerns about housing and job markets remain widespread among Affluents, but are moderating slightly amid encouraging media reports and economic improvements they are witnessing personally. As one of our research participants put it, when asked to describe his optimism about the economy: “I believe there are indicators that the economy is recovering... unemployment is falling slightly, the real estate market is improving, companies are beginning to offer raises, etc.”

It isn’t just optimism about the economy that’s trending up: 

  • 53% now expect they personally will be better off in 12 months, down slightly from 58% in February, but generally continuing an upward trend over the six months, and also a one-year high
  • 70% are very or somewhat optimistic about the organization they work for, up from 62% in February 2012 (although expectations about whether or not their employer will increase spending are decidedly mixed)
  • 40% now consider stocks/equities to be an excellent or good investment at this time – the fourth consecutive monthly increase in this metric, and up from 34% since February 2012. Seventy-one percent are at least somewhat confident of getting a positive return on their investments this year.
  • 34% would spend significantly or slightly more in the event the economy continues to improve, up from 27% in January 2012



The news is certainly encouraging, but it hardly signals an end to Affluents' economic anxiety. They view the recovery, such as it is, as halting and tentative, and nearly half feel the end of the economic recession for the U.S. as a whole is till two or more years away. Moreover, only one-in-three consider the recession over for themselves or their family, and only one-in-ten consider it over for the U.S. as a whole – figures that have risen only marginally in 2012.

While this month's results are encouraging, it is clear that Affluents continue to search for a recovery they can believe in. Marketers would do well to assume that Affluents will continue to be constrained in their spending until Affluents feel a more definitive recovery taking hold.

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