- Author: The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research
The analysis shows that after years of economic attitudes among whites, blacks and Hispanics following similar patterns, whites' confidence in their economic future has plummeted in the last decade. Blacks and Hispanics, meanwhile, have sustained high levels of optimism despite being hit hard in the recent recession.
The AP-NORC analysis of data from the General Social Survey, a long-running biannual survey conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago, found just 46 percent of whites say their family has a good chance of improving their living standard given the way things are in America, the lowest level in surveys conducted since 1987. In contrast, 73 percent of Hispanics express optimism of an improved life — the biggest gap with whites since the survey began asking.
Blacks and Hispanics diverged sharply from whites on this question following Obama's election as the nation's first black president in 2008. Economic optimism among non-whites rose, while whites' optimism declined.
For the first time since 1972, the share of blacks who reported that their financial situation had improved in the last few years surpassed that of whites. The tip occurred in 2010, when the percentage of whites reporting an improvement to their financial situation fell to 24 percent vs. 30 percent for blacks.
Hispanic optimism about the country's direction also surpassed that of whites after 2008.
The increases in minority optimism come despite any real improvement for blacks and Hispanics relative to whites based on economic measures of unemployment, median income and median net worth. For instance, since 2005, whites as a group lost 15 percent of their net worth, compared with 43 percent for blacks.
Source: Published originally on The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research as Blacks, Hispanics More Optimistic Than Whites by Hope Yen and Jennifer Agiesta, August 1, 2013