NEW YORK — Is the “American Dream” officially dead? According to a new survey of 2,000 Americans, more than half of those polled believe the dream is unattainable and say the decline of the U.S. manufacturing industry is to blame.
Nearly two-thirds of respondents agree the idea was a lot more achievable 30 years ago compared to today. Another two in three point toward the presumed dwindling of the manufacturing industry over the past few decades as one major culprit.
Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of TRANSFR, the study reveals demographic differences in Americans’ opinions over reaching the American dream. Generational differences also emerged, but not necessarily as one might expect.
Millennials (24-39 year-olds) are the age group most likely to believe that the American dream is an unachievable ideal. Six in 10 millennials feel this way, followed closely by members of Generation X (57%). Forty-two percent of the Generation Z (18-23 year-olds) believed that the American dream is unattainable. Conversely, less than one in three baby boomers felt this way.
When it comes to opinions about the U.S. manufacturing industry, generations are once again at odds. While one in five respondents considered going into manufacturing while they were in high school, only six percent of respondents between 18 and 23 had considered this option. This is a far cry from the 23 percent of 24-39-year-olds and 22 percent of 40-55-year-olds in the poll.
Lack of opportunity behind fading American dream?
More than half of respondents (47%) felt that manufacturing jobs had by and large dried up, with millennials being most likely to respond this way. However, as reported by the Wall Street Journal, between 2010 and the COVID-19 outbreak, manufacturing employment in the U.S. had actually increased by 1.3 million jobs.
“It is a myth to think that manufacturing jobs in the U.S have completely dried up. In fact, there are initiatives in states such as Alabama, where the Governor has identified a need to fill 500,000 jobs by 2025 to meet the needs of industry in the state,” says Bharani Rajakumar, founder and CEO of TRANSFR, a company that provides skills-based training that utilizes virtual reality to deliver job-ready candidates for manufacturers and other employers.
“By creating a classroom to career pipeline that meets industry needs while creating opportunities for people to choose and begin successful manufacturing careers, we aim to help them achieve a better standard of living by providing immersive learning experiences that give them the skills and confidence they need to succeed.”
Education is another barrier that respondents cited in their assessment of what makes the American dream more difficult to achieve today. Over six in ten Americans say the costs of higher education are a major hurdle.
“Education is a huge component of the American dream, but a 4-year university degree is not necessarily the best path for everybody immediately after high school. Hands-on simulation-based training can not only provide a path to prosperity, but it also gives people pre-employment on-the-job experience they need to retain the jobs they enter,” Rajakumar adds.