While many Americans still believe they can achieve the American Dream, uncertainty in the U.S. economy has prompted a shift in consumer priorities, according to the 2009 MetLife Study of the American Dream. While the American Dream is still defined first and foremost by financial security (66 percent), the current version also emphasizes strong personal relationships. Nearly half of respondents (44 percent) said the current economy has caused them to reevaluate their priorities.
About one-third of Americans feel they have already achieved the American Dream, down slightly from 37 percent a year ago; 72 percent believe they can still achieve it in their lifetime. However, nearly half (49 percent) worry that they won’t be able to sustain that dream.
The study also finds that 50 percent of Americans are only one month – or two paychecks – or less away from being unable to meet their financial obligations if they were to lose their job, and more than half of these people said they could not survive financially for more than two weeks. Nearly three-fourths (74 percent) of Americans admit to having an inadequate financial safety net, and 62 percent of these respondents said they wish they had more cash on hand to tide them over for three to six months in the event of job loss.
Nationally, 44 percent of Americans expect the overall economy to be worse in 2009 than it was in 2008, and 49 percent believe that the creation of new jobs will do the most to boost the economy.