New Research on the Economy from Hidden Common Ground Project

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  • economy

As part of the Hidden Common Ground initiative with the National Issues Forums (NIF) network, Public Agenda, USA TODAY and Ipsos released a new poll today showing that 53 percent of Americans are worried about being able to maintain their standard of living over the next few years.

That finding and several others in the poll are reflected in conversations by people nationwide in deliberative forums held by NIF in recent years. In states from Georgia and Maryland to Washington state, people in forums using the “Making Ends Meet” issue guide in 2016 were deeply concerned that the economy was not working for them and that they no longer had a fair chance to build a good life for themselves.

“When it comes to measures to increase the number of good jobs in America, there is considerable cross-partisan common ground on investments in training and education, on research in emerging ‘good jobs industries,’ and on providing tax breaks and other incentives to businesses that create good jobs or ‘onshore’ ones that were sent overseas,” Public Agenda and Ipsos said in announcing the results. “These are areas where the public is ready to move forward on the project of creating more good jobs in America.”

Other results from the Public Agenda/Ipsos poll include:

* Asked to describe national economic conditions in the US, 46 percent referred to it as “excellent” or “good.”

* 82 percent supported creating incentives to encourage American businesses to bring quality jobs back from overseas, and the same number supported upgrading infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, to create good jobs.

* Raising the minimum wage was supported by 66 percent of Americans, although there was a significant partisan split on the issue.

The new poll, available in full from the Public Agenda website is also being covered in depth by USA TODAY.


New NIF Issue Guide Due in September

A second, more in-depth survey on the economy by Public Agenda and Ipsos is planned for release in September 2020. A new National Issues Forums issue guide on the economy is now in the works and will be published at the same time.


Deliberative Conversations on the Economy

When the Kettering Foundation looked closely at the results of NIF forums on “Making Ends Meet,” they found that people in the forums were deeply concerned that the economy is not working for them, the gap between rich and poor is widening, and people no longer have a fair chance to build a good life for themselves. Forum participants tended to agree with actions that would make it possible for individuals to increase their earning power, and it was also important to them that these supports be provided fairly. 

The foundation’s research described the deliberations on the minimum wage: “Many participants saw the idea of raising the minimum wage as a concrete and compassionate way to help people who work hard but don't earn very much. Participants often talked about the issue as it emerged from and affected their communities. But once people began to deliberate, the conversation often turned to more specific questions of 'when' and 'how.'

“In Seattle, which had already seen a minimum wage increase, one man explained his concerns: ‘You raise minimum wage. . . . it was $9.40 before the increase to $15 . . . that’s almost double [a] person’s pay. [Businesses are] going to have to spend almost double the cost to keep all of their staff.’ In South Carolina-which has not raised its minimum wage-similar concerns were voiced: ‘The trade-off [is that a] significantly higher minimum wage could force some small businesses to close or lay off workers. Another trade-off is the businesses will simply go up on the prices and pass the increased cost off to us.’” 


Read the March 6, 2020 USA TODAY article, The economy: Republican, Democratic voters agree on ways to juice the economy. What's in the way? Politics. 

In a March 6, 2020 USA TODAY article, Paul Davidson writes:

Most Democratic and Republican voters agree on a wide range of proposals to boost the economy, from upgrading infrastructure to reducing college costs, casting doubt on the conventional belief that pocketbook issues are hopelessly dividing voters in the 2020 election.

A Public Agenda/USA TODAY/Ipsos survey reveals that Americans agree far more than they disagree on ways to make it easier for low- and middle-income people to get good jobs and for corporations to provide them. The poll of Democrats, Republicans and independents is part of the three organizations’ "Hidden Common Ground 2020 Initiative," which seeks to explore areas of agreement on major issues...

Click here to read the full article.

(Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash)