Is the American Dream unattainable after the Great Recession?

In the wake of the recession, Americans see the American Dream as becoming increasingly unattainable—6 in 10 believe that’s the case—and blame a range of factors, largely economic. According to a survey of 503 American adults we conducted using SONAR™, JWT’s proprietary online tool, unemployment is the most frequently cited impediment to the American Dream, up 12 percentage points from a similar survey we conducted in 2008. The cost of living (rising prices of everyday goods and health care costs) is also a big concern, closely followed by personal debt.

While the percentage of Americans who view the government as an obstacle has remained largely unchanged, four years of a Democratic administration has rankled Republicans: 61 percent now blame federal government policies, up from 42 percent in 2008. To learn more about shifting perceptions of the American Dream, download our September trend report, “American Dream in the Balance.”