America's Hidden Common Ground on Creating Good Jobs

Results from a Public Agenda/USA Today/Ipsos Snapshot Poll

The author(s)

  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
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Washington, DC, March 6, 2020 - A new Public Agenda/USA Today/Ipsos Hidden Common Ground Poll finds that just over half of Americans are worried about being able to maintain their standard of living over the next few years (53%). Split by party affiliation, Democrats are the most worried (60%), followed by Independents (56%) and Republicans (43%). Less than half of respondents would describe national economic conditions in the country today as excellent or good (46%). Nearly three-quarters of Republicans describe the economy this way (72%) compared to 30% of Democrats and 42% of Independents.

Of a list of nine potential actions that federal and state governments could take to create more good quality jobs, there is strong cross-partisan support on creating retraining programs through community colleges and trade schools that give adults the skills to compete for good quality jobs in emerging industries (84% overall). This is closely followed by creating incentives that encourage American businesses to bring good quality jobs that they moved overseas back to the United States and upgrading public infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, to create good jobs and make the economy more productive (82% for both).

Other measures receiving significant cross-partisan support are: Decreasing the cost of colleges and universities, funding research in technology, science and green energy, and providing tax breaks to businesses that create good quality jobs. All of these measures receive significant support from Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike. 

Three other measures not only received less support overall, but also reveal significant partisan differences of opinion about how to create good jobs. Raising the minimum wage received 66% support overall but with significant differences by partisan affiliation (Democrats: 80%; Republicans: 48%; Independents: 54%). Similarly, making it easier for workers to unionize received 61% support overall, with 76% from Democrats, 46% from Republicans, and 52% from Independents. Finally, decreasing regulation of businesses that create good quality jobs won 53% support overall, but only 42% from Democrats, while 69% of Republicans and 51% of Independents supported the idea.

In sum, 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. These are areas where the public is ready to move forward on the project of creating more good jobs in America. There is also significant cross-partisan disagreement on several other measures, including increasing the minimum wage, unionization and deregulation. These are areas where more dialogue will be required to determine if and how they might be employed to create the kind of jobs Americans want to see in their economy.

While there is considerable common ground across partisan affiliations in support of various government actions aimed at creating good quality jobs in the United States, Republicans still show less comfort than Democrats with assigning responsibility to government for solutions: Only a third of Republicans say that the government is responsible for making sure there are enough good quality jobs in the United States (35%), compared to 60% of Democrats and 47% of Independents. Meanwhile, there is majority agreement across partisan affiliations that individual responsibility is important, as eight in ten Republicans and three-quarters of Independents (74%) believe that it is the individual’s responsibility to find and negotiate for a good quality job, along with a smaller majority (about 66%) of Democrats.

How do Americans see their own jobs at present? A third of employed Americans describe their job as having a lot of what they want and need in a job (34%) and another third say their job has some of  what they want and need in a job (33%). They are most satisfied with flexibility such as hours and work-life balance (83%), overall job (80%), pay/salary (70%), and management (68%). Across party lines, Republicans, Democrats, and Independents are all most satisfied with the flexibility of their jobs (86%, 80%, and 90% respectively).

Hidden Common Ground 2020 is a major initiative spearheaded by Public Agenda and USA Today, along with the National Issues Forums, the Election 2020: America Amplified Public Media Collaborative, and Ipsos. Through nonpartisan research, robust journalism, “Strange Bedfellows” storytelling, and community dialogue and events, the initiative promotes thoughtful, solutions-oriented public engagement during election season. The present snapshot survey focuses on Americans’ perspectives on jobs and the economy.  Hidden Common Ground is supported by a diverse group of foundations, including the Carnegie Corporation of New Yorkthe John S. and James L. Knight Foundationthe Charles Koch Foundation, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, as well as through the generosity of individual donors. In addition, the Kettering Foundation is a research partner of the initiative.

About the Study

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between February 20-21, 2020, on behalf of Public Agenda and USA Today. For this survey, a sample of roughly 1,007 adults age 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii was interviewed online in English. The sample includes 408 Republicans, 450 Democrats, and 103 Independents.

The sample for this study was randomly drawn from Ipsos’ online panel (see link below for more info on “Access Panels and Recruitment”), partner online panel sources, and “river” sampling (see link below for more info on the Ipsos “Ampario Overview” sample method) and does not rely on a population frame in the traditional sense. Ipsos uses fixed sample targets, unique to each study, in drawing a sample. After a sample has been obtained from the Ipsos panel, Ipsos calibrates respondent characteristics to be representative of the U.S. Population using standard procedures such as raking-ratio adjustments. The source of these population targets is U.S. Census 2016 American Community Survey data. The sample drawn for this study reflects fixed sample targets on demographics. Posthoc weights were made to the population characteristics on gender, age, race/ethnicity, region, and education. 

Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online non-probability polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for all respondents. Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=2,206, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=+/-5.0 percentage points).

The poll also has a credibility interval of plus or minus 5.5 percentage points for Republicans, plus or minus 5.3 percentage points for Democrats, and plus or minus 11.0 percentage points for Independents.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Chris Jackson
Vice President, US
Public Affairs
+1 202 420-2025

Kate Silverstein
Media Relations, US
Public Affairs
+1 718 755-8829

About Ipsos

Ipsos is the world’s third largest market research company, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people.

Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees. We serve more than 5000 clients across the world with 75 business solutions.

Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos is listed on the Euronext Paris since July 1st, 1999. The company is part of the SBF 120 and the Mid-60 index and is eligible for the Deferred Settlement Service (SRD).

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About The Hidden Common Ground Initiative

The Hidden Common Ground Initiative focuses on underappreciated and under-leveraged areas of agreement among the public on solutions to tough public problems, like health care and criminal justice. HCG 2020 is the election-year iteration of the initiative, spearheaded by Public Agenda and USA Today, with The National Issues Forums (NIF), Ipsos, and the America Amplified: Election 2020 Public Media Collaborative. It applies the HCG mission to an array of election year issues via nonpartisan research, national and local journalism, community-based and online deliberative forums, and “Strange Bedfellows” storytelling and events.


The author(s)

  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs