Contrary to Political Rhetoric, Immigrants and US Born Still Believe the American Dream is Attainable

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Despite ongoing, tough economic conditions, immigrants to the United States, as well as native-born citizens, overwhelmingly believe they can realize the American Dream according to the latest findings from a survey conducted by Harris Poll commissioned by Express Employment Professionals.

People come to this country because they believe in the American Dream and they help make it a reality for all of us,

Despite ongoing, tough economic conditions, immigrants to the United States, as well as native-born citizens, overwhelmingly believe they can realize the American Dream of buying a home and being financially set, according to the latest findings from a survey conducted by Harris Poll commissioned by Express Employment Professionals.

No matter where someone was born, more than 80% want to achieve the American Dream. There also is overwhelming agreement with 78 percent of the general population believing that the “American Dream,” is achievable. Interestingly, the characteristics and meaning of the “American Dream” were the same regardless of birthplace.

Regardless of birthplace, the overwhelming majority of respondents defined the “American Dream” as owning a home and earning enough money to live but still having plenty of free time. Responses indicated that these things are also possible for everyone to attain, if they work hard and apply themselves.

Both groups of respondents agreed the decisions and actions they make have a big effect on whether or not they reach this goal. For those citizens born in the U.S., 86 percent say “The choices I make impact whether or not I will achieve the American Dream,” while 80 percent of immigrants agree with that statement.

Most respondents soundly rejected the notion the American Dream is a myth. When asked to agree or disagree that the American Dream is a myth that no one can obtain, 79 percent of U.S.-born and 77 percent of foreign-born disagreed.

“On the cusp of 2016, the American Dream is alive and well, particularly among immigrants,” said Bob Funk, CEO of Express Employment Professionals and a former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

Funk added, “Even though there is grave concern about the economy, the vast majority of individuals remain optimistic, with immigrants especially driven to achieve the American Dream. The survey results indicate that immigrants want to assimilate, learn English and they’re willing to work hard to do it. They are positive people looking to make a positive impact.”

“As American businesses look for workers with the right skills, immigrants remain a welcome source of vitality with a zeal to work and they are a reminder that the American Dream has broad appeal. People come to this country because they believe in the American Dream and they help make it a reality for all of us,” Funk said.

The survey was conducted online in multiple languages, including English, Spanish and Chinese, by Harris Poll on behalf of Express Employment Professionals in October 2015.

MORE THAN 80% WANT AND BELIEVE THE AMERICAN DREAM CAN BE ACHIEVED

  •     Eighty-seven percent of U.S. residents, regardless of birthplace said they “want to achieve the American Dream,” and 78 percent said it is something they can achieve in their lifetimes. Eighty percent of immigrants said they can achieve it in their lifetimes.
  •     When presented with the statement, “I am living the American Dream,” 60 percent of immigrants agreed while 55 percent of U.S.-born citizens agreed.
  •     When given the statement “The American Dream can only be achieved with luck rather than skills and hard work,” 34 percent of all U.S. residents, regardless of their birthplace, agree while 66 percent disagree.
  •     Both groups agreed by large margins “The American Dream is possible for everyone if they work hard and apply themselves.” Sixty-eight percent of U.S.-born and 71 percent of immigrants are in agreement with that statement.
  •     At the same time, however, doubts exist. When asked if they think “The system is rigged and the American Dream is not open to everyone, just some people,” 61 percent of U.S.-born Americans, and 55 percent of immigrants, agree.
  •     U.S. residents were asked to choose between two differing points of view:

        “Smith says: If you work hard and play by the rules, you can make a good living in America. Jones says: It doesn’t matter how hard you work, you just can’t get ahead in the U.S. anymore. You’ll be lucky to live paycheck to paycheck.”
         There was little difference between immigrants and native-born Americans in their responses. Sixty-three percent of U.S.-born citizens and 61 percent of immigrants agree with Smith.

VIEWS OF U.S.-B0RN CITIZENS TOWARD IMMIGRANTS ARE POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE

  •     Ninety-five percent of U.S.-born citizens say “Immigrants come to the U.S. seeking a better future for their families” and 87 percent agree with the statement “Immigrants come to the U.S. because life here is easier than in their home country.”
  •     Seventy-eight percent of U.S.-born citizens believe “Immigrants take jobs that Americans refuse to do” and 61 percent believe “Immigrants come to the U.S. because they can receive public assistance programs like welfare.”
  •     Views are split over whether “Immigrants lower the wages that would otherwise be paid to Americans.” Fifty-three percent of U.S.-born citizens agree with that statement and 47 percent disagree.

If you would like to arrange for an interview with Bob Funk to discuss this topic, please contact Sherry Kast at (405) 717-5966.

About Robert A. Funk
Robert A. “Bob” Funk is chairman and chief executive officer of Express Employment Professionals. Headquartered in Oklahoma City, the international staffing company has franchises in the U.S., Canada and South Africa. Under his leadership, Express has put more than six million people to work worldwide. Funk served as the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and was also the Chairman of the Conference of Chairmen of the Federal Reserve.

About Express Employment Professionals
Express Employment Professionals puts people to work. It generated $2.85 billion in sales and employed more than 456,000 people in 2014. Its long-term goal is to put a million people to work annually.

Survey Methodology
Harris Poll Topline Results

The survey was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Express Employment Professionals from Oct. 5 – 21, 2015, and included 2,043 U.S. adults aged 18 or older from the general population and an oversample of 781 foreign born U.S. residents age 18 or older. In total, 866 foreign born U.S. residents were surveyed, of whom 59% identified themselves as Hispanic, 12% as European, 11% as Asian and 18% as other.

Data is weighted to be representative of the general U.S. population and U.S. residents who are foreign-born.
Results were weighted as needed for age by gender, education, race/ethnicity, region and household income. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online. Totals may not equal the sum of their individual components due to rounding. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available.

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Sherry Kast
@ExpressPros
since: 08/2008
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