Snoopy’s googling for his American Dream. He lost it somewhere in the trajectory of rising energy prices, health costs and personal debt.

The American Dream is defined, first and foremost, as financial security, in MetLife‘s second annual American Dream survey.

Concerns abound in the American worker’s mindset focused on dropping home values, incrasing energy costs, and rising personal debt. Thus, only one in three Americans believe they’ve achieved the Dream of financial security. Still, three-quarters of Americans believe it’s possible to achieve this Dream in their lifetime.

Nearly all Americans see themselves working harder than ever “to get by.”
Half believe that the 2008 economy will be worse than that of 2007. Energy, health care costs and personal debt are the top three kitchen table (that is, “butter” vs. “gun”) issues causing “particular uneasiness.”

2 in 3 American feel less confidence in the viability of government-sponsored benefits. 2 in 3 Americans feel equally concerned about the state of employer-sponsored benefits as employers shift more responsibility to workers. Half of Americans see themselves carrying greater financial burdens than their parents did.

The chairman of MetLife, C. Robert Henrikson, put the scenario succinctly: “As traditional safety nets continue to erode and the cost of daily living expenses rise, Americans are feeling a collective loss of optimism and control.”

Health Populi’s Hot Points:
Even with that sobering background, MetLife sees opportunity: amidst “macro pessimism” the company sees “micro optimism.” The fact that most Americans still believe they can achieve financial security in their lifetimes may tee up some behavior changes among the optimists in t he crowd. What behavior changes? Why, this is MetLife talking, so it’s the cause of building up one’s “personal safety net.” That is, save money through 401(k)s, annuities, and don’t forget the long-term care insurance. But most importantly, Americans also expect to count on employers’ providing access to employee benefits — even if employees have to fund most or all of the costs themselves….especially through retirement.

The outcome of the 2008 election is seen by most Americans as critical for bolstering their personal chances of achieving the American Dream. Note that 8 in 10 Americans
are concerned that the War in Iraq will compromise their ability to achieve the American Dream.

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