Rutgers poll: Most see improved economy, but say rich benefit at workers expense

In this Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018, file photo a chart on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shows the rise of the S&P 500 index since 2009. Strong corporate earnings growth and a resilient U.S. economy bolstered by a solid job market and consumer confidence set the stage for the market to continue the upward trajectory it’s been on for more than nine years, experts say. (Richard Drew/AP Photo, File)

In this Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018, file photo a chart on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shows the rise of the S&P 500 index since 2009. Strong corporate earnings growth and a resilient U.S. economy bolstered by a solid job market and consumer confidence set the stage for the market to continue the upward trajectory it’s been on for more than nine years, experts say. (Richard Drew/AP Photo, File)

A national survey by the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University finds that a majority of Americans believe the economy is improving, but they’re worried about future job prospects.

Even though the unemployment rate is low, 57 percent of those surveyed consider the federal government’s handling of the job situation fair or poor, said Carl Van Horn, center director.

And seven in 10 Americans are worried that the country is being run for the benefit of the rich rather than for workers.

“Many workers don’t think they’re benefiting, and, in fact, for the average American, wages have not increased more than inflation for more than a decade,” he said. “So, while they may have a job, it’s not necessarily a job that gives them the opportunity to advance economically.”

Only 10 percent of those surveyed say they’re extremely confident they could get a new job if they were laid off.

“They’re concerned about what’s happening in Washington, that the government may spoil the future economic growth by its activities, Van Horn said. “And they’re concerned that corporations are still thinking about moving more jobs overseas and taking them out of the United States.”

Just over half of those surveyed worry that the economy will not be better for the next generation, he said.

“I teach students, and they’re concerned about this. They worry that they can’t pay off their debts. That they’re not going to get a job that gives them enough money to afford to do that,” Van Horn said. “They may not be able to have a family when they want to or buy a house.”

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