Fewer Americans believe there is "plenty of opportunity" to get ahead in America today than have said so across three previous measurement points over the last 59 years. A bare majority (52%) say the country has plenty of economic opportunity, down from 57% in 2011 and more substantially from 81% in 1998.AP reports:
These results come from a Sept. 25-Oct. 2 poll that updated several long-standing trends relating to Americans' views of economic opportunity.
Obama has also spoken frequently about the need for a "fairer" society -- one in which the prospect of social mobility and the ability of all groups in society to get ahead is spread equally. American attitudes about this aspect of U.S. society have changed significantly over the past decade and a half. Today, just half say "the economic system in the United States is basically fair, since all Americans have an equal opportunity to succeed," while 44% instead see it as basically unfair, and lacking such opportunity. This is a significant change of attitudes compared with the economically heady and dot-com boom year of 1998, when nearly seven in 10 Americans saw the economic system as fair.
U.S. consumer confidence fell in October as concern grew that the partial government shutdown and political fight over the nation's borrowing limit would slow growth.
The University of Michigan says its index of consumer sentiment fell to 73.2 from 77.5 in September. The index has fallen for three straight months after reaching a six-year high of 85.1 in July.
A measure of Americans' expectations for future growth fell to its lowest level since late 2011, pulling down the overall index.
"Consumers have increasingly moved toward the view that the government has become the primary obstacle to more robust economic growth," the survey said.
Americans made more negative references to the federal government this month than at any time in the roughly 50-year history of the survey.