Market Watch Magazine recently published a survey that said for the first time ever, Americans younger than 35 say they actually have less consumer confidence than those aged 55 and over. This, according to data from the University of Michigan, Haver Analytics and Deutsche Bank Global Research.

Millennials shoulder more student loan debt than any other generation and face house prices that are far higher than their parents did at their age.

A survey conducted by the City of Hamilton may bear out that conclusion.  Titled Our Citizen Survey, the Hamilton report shows general satisfaction with the level and quality of city services, but also shows a split in satisfaction levels along age lines.  The survey onsisted of a phone poll using Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) technology, and an on-line poll.  The phone poll which reached 550 respondents had an accuracy of plus or minus 4.2 percent 19 times out of 20.  The on-line survey which could be randomly accessed garnered 1300 responses, and as a result was not statistically valid but was used to provide background on the data that was predictive.

Overall respondents seemed generally satisfied with both their personal situation and with regard to city services. 66 percent of telephone respondents were very satisfied or satisfied with the city services, and putting it another way, over 80 percent had some level of satisfaction with 24 out of 26 services presented to them. The two outliers, however were the critical areas of condition of streets and roads and snow removal. 38 percent rated roads and sidewalks as “poor,” and snow plowing scored at 21 percent “poor” rating.

What was interesting in the survey was the considerable difference in some responses between the telephone and online responders—perhaps suggesting a split along old-young lines on key issues like overall satisfaction. The online respondents skewed considerably younger than the phone respondents (52 percent under the age of 44 compared to 31 percent on the phone poll.)

This younger online cohort was: more likely to use a bus for work and school, although 70 percent still relied on a car for some aspect of their lives, typically shopping and recreation. The real split between the two groups was in their outlook on their life in Hamilton, where significantly fewer of the younger, online group agreed with statements about Hamilton as a great place to live, work, play and learn.

Because of the differing methodologies—random sampling versus self-directed participation, one cannot draw precise conclusions from the data-(although the online group demonstrate higher levels of civic engagement by their proactive participation) the survey does suggest at least– lower levels of overall optimism in the youngest adult cohort in the community. At the end of the day what can be said is that some 1,300 engaged younger participants took part in the survey and there was a significant difference in their level of satisfaction than that of the older, telephone-based sample.

Providing a Fresh Perspective for Burlington and Hamilton.

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