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American Dream Lives On Despite Rising Financial Insecurity: Survey

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AMERICAN DREAM SURVEY

Americans, despite the uncertainty of their own personal finances, continue to have faith in that well-worn concept of an American dream.

In a recent report conducted by The Mellman Group and Public Opinion Strategies for Pew Charitable Trusts, 68 percent of those surveyed "say they have achieved or will achieve the American Dream."

That stands in marked contrast to how they view their current financial situation, especially with only 32 percent now labeling their personal finances as "excellent or good." Back in 2007, before the recession took full effect, over half of Americans expressed that high level of confidence.

With the unemployment rate stuck above nine percent and more than one-fourth of single-family homes underwater, that insecurity appears justified. Add to that the effect, both psychological and economic, of high food and gas prices, and largely stagnant wages also become a threat.

Although those surveyed expressed faith in the economic mobility associated with the American dream, the vast majority don't think they should go it alone. All of 83 percent said government should play a role in supporting economic mobility, and 58 percent said they though the government could do more, too.

A particularly strong desire was expressed to see the government better help middle- and lower-class Americans. In fact, 80 percent say the government is currently not effectively helping those two groups. And just over half of those surveyed, 54 percent think the government helps the "wrong people" when it does intervene.

"Americans are looking to policy makers to support their efforts to get ahead," said Erin Currier, project manager for Pew’s Economic Mobility Project, in a release. "Even in the wake of the Great Recession, there is a strong belief that people can work hard and be successful."

Those surveyed, by and large, know what role they want the government to play in creating an economically-mobile country, too: the two most popular choices being "ensuring all children get a quality education" (88 percent) and "promoting job creation" (79 percent).

It's not that Americans only want to be rich, either. Above all, actually, 85 percent of those surveyed said it was financial stability, not a rise in economic status, that they valued most. Only 13 percent said the opposite.

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