Chaos Breeds Hope: National Survey Finds Despite the Uncertainty of COVID-19 and 2020 Election Season, the Majority of Americans Feel Optimistic About the Future
Persevering Through 2020’s Challenges, Two Out of Three Respondents Have Taken Action to Improve Their Career Prospects
Burlington, Vt – October 14, 2020 – A new survey from Champlain College Online finds that 66% of Americans feel positive when they think about their future, even amidst the uncertainty of COVID-19 and the 2020 election season. The survey revealed surprising differences between adults with children at home and those without, as well as notable efforts among Americans to continue enhancing career prospects.
“Some of history’s most influential leaders have remarked that opportunity is found during times of crisis–that breakdowns often lead to breakthroughs. Americans are resilient and driven to leverage these challenging times, not be defeated by them. They’re optimistic about their futures and careers, and motivated to invest in them even when faced with a remarkably challenging 2020,” said Dr. Benjamin Ola. Akande, president of Champlain College. “When this positivity is paired with actions taken to persevere professionally and invest in continued learning and development, it gives us the courage to imagine better tomorrows–and propel ourselves forward.”
A particularly surprising insight was the career-related optimism of respondents with children at home, despite these individuals likely holding additional responsibility for caregiving and education at this time:
- Respondents with children in their household were notably more optimistic about their career prospects (63%) than those without children living at home (51%).
- Half of those with children in the household (50%) sought a new job opportunity since the pandemic was declared in March and 41% sought a new job opportunity closer to home.
- They also were more likely to accelerate the decision to gain new skills for the workplace (24%) than those without children in the household (15%).
- A significant majority of respondents (65%) agree that a college degree is a smart investment for a better career, and this was most pronounced for respondents with children in the household (71%).
- “At a time with so much uncertainty, it's remarkable and inspiring to see optimism about career prospects, an eagerness to develop professional skills, and an awareness that one's own actions are still the key to creating a positive career trajectory," said Jen Morris, executive career coach, founder of Career Inspo, and special career advisor to Champlain College Online.
A majority of respondents (55%) were mostly or somewhat optimistic when thinking about their career prospects right now. This was reflected in their actions as well:
- Top actions to improve career prospects included respondents updating their resumes (38%), reaching out for career help (37%), developing new skills through free training (36%), and exploring a career change (35%).
- Adults are also considering continued education with 29% of respondents having considered enrolling in a program at a college or university.
- When asked questions about the current employment and economic landscape, 78% of respondents agreed that staying current and developing new skills is a requirement in today’s competitive job market.
On a more personal level, many respondents (39%) report the pandemic has accelerated the timing of their decision to “develop new or healthy habits,” more than double the number who reported accelerating the timing of any other decision measured.
“As we face continuous disruption in all areas of our lives, we are having more intentional conversations with our co-workers, neighbors, and families about how we can move beyond simply surviving in times like ours, but actually thrive,” said Lindsey Godwin, Ph.D., Robert P. Stiller Endowed Chair, Professor of Management, and Academic Director of the David L. Cooperrider Center for Appreciative Inquiry at Champlain College. “The good news is that investing in self-care always has a tremendous ROI. The fact that people are taking more time to take care of themselves is good news for not only them, but for our organizations and communities as well, because healthier people help create healthier systems.”
Additional findings regarding the U.S. presidential election:
- When asked what would have a bigger impact on their life over the next 12 months, 38% said the outcome of the U.S. presidential election, 37% said the COVID-19 pandemic, and only 6% said the racial justice movement.
- Baby boomers were significantly more likely to select the outcome of the U.S. presidential election as having a bigger impact (49%) as compared to Gen Z (24%), Millennials (34%), and Gen X (30%).
- Thirty percent (30%) of respondents agree that the outcome of the U.S. presidential election will have little impact on most Americans’ career prospects, however 44% disagree, suggesting that a plurality of respondents believe the U.S. presidential election will impact most Americans’ career prospects.
Champlain College Online commissioned Engine Insights to field questions on its online CARAVAN® omnibus survey from September 16-18, 2020. The results are weighted to U.S. Census data to be demographically representative. The margin of error (for the entire sample of 1,006 respondents from all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia) is +/- 3%, and larger for subgroups, with a confidence level of 95%.
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