American confidence in government, media, banks, small businesses, public schools and churches plummeted over the past two years as the economic downturn continued to weigh on Americans, according to a nationwide survey from North Carolina public relations firm Capstrat commissioned by Public Policy Polling. The survey looked at the level of confidence across several institutions across age groups and ethnicities.
Confidence in government plummeted 14 percentage points from 2009 to 2011—the largest drop of any category.
But there is a bright spot. Among all of the age groups, 18 to 29 year olds appear to have the most confidence across all institutions. Despite the dot-com bust, 9/11, two wars, a global economic crisis and a stalemate in Washington; Millennials have more confidence than any other age group.
Conversely, Americans 65 years and older demonstrated the least amount of confidence of any age group— posting the lowest amount of confidence in government, media, banks and very low confidence in corporations. Baby boomer confidence has disappeared as budget politics impact social security, housing prices take another dip, and nest eggs dry up in the stock market.
“Millennials are a true bright spot in this study,” says Capstrat CEO Ken Eudy. “These younger Americans have grown up in the most tumultuous times since the Great Depression but are still ready to inject positivity into the marketplace and the country as they move into the workforce and management percentitions. This has implications for prospective employers and for companies that have to work to earn their customer’s trust.”
• Only about half of all Millennials have some trust in social media providers like Facebook or Twitter to act in their best interest even though they are the most prolific users of social media. As markets open up to competition among telecom providers, trust may be a viable marketing approach if it can be backed up with customer service.
• Men remain slightly more confident in small business than women (39 percent to 32 percent), but both genders saw their confidence decline since 2009 (women -8 percent, men -10 percent).
• In 2009, more men (55 percent) than women (43 percent) were notably more confident in corporations. Two years later, women (47 percent) have more confidence in corporations than men (44 percent). This is the result of a slight uptick in women’s confidence (+4 percent) and a big decline in men’s confidence (-11 percent).
• Hispanics who said they have “a lot” of confidence in the media increased more than fourfold. Public schools and labor union confidence also tripled among Hispanics.
• African-Americans expressed more confidence in government than any other group, with 45 percent saying they have “a lot” of confidence.
• Democrat party leaders took the largest hit over the last two years. A uniform decline was most pronounced among Caucasians (-14 percent) and African-Americans (-15 percent) leading to an 11-point drop since 2009.