Is the American Dream still alive?

Is the American Dream still alive?

A new study shows that a majority of Americans are living the American Dream—even if they largely don’t realize it. The poll, conducted by marketing firm DDB as part of its 2014 Life Style Study, found that only 40 percent of American adults over the age of 18 believed they were “living the American Dream.”

That same 7,015-person study also found that sizable majorities reported owning a home, receiving a “good education,” finding a “decent job” and giving their children better lives than they themselves had—all traditional tenets of the American Dream. Although these findings may not seem intuitive, the answer behind this discrepancy could lie in an important trend in American financial security.

“Even though people report that they are not living the dream, they actually are when you look at the traditional benchmarks,” said Denise Delahorne, SVP, Group Strategy Director, DDB Chicago, who worked closely with the survey. She theorized that many people do not see themselves as having attained the traditional American Dream because of a shifting definition of the term.

Is the American Dream still alive?

“If you’re new to this country, then life seems pretty good here,” Delahorne said. “But for many people who have lived here a long time, they’ve started to think of the American Dream less as the traditional elements, and more relative to wealth.”

In the DDB survey, only 25 percent of adults reported that they have been able to “make a lot of money” in their life. But Erin Currier, director of economic mobility at The Pew Charitable Trusts, told CNBC she does not think the disparity between the DDB respondents’ life histories and their own assessment of American Dream fulfillment lies in an evolving definition. Still, she agreed with Delahorne: The explanation lies in wealth.

“[American families] have enough that they are able to consume those indicators of the American Dream, but they aren’t financially secure,” Currier said, drawing the distinction to an increase in citizens’ incomes, but not their wealth. “My instinct is that people feel that on a day to day basis.”

Because Americans are “treading water,” she said, they are too insecure to be able to enjoy their achievements. Still, Pew research from 2009 confirms that the elements listed on the DDB survey roughly align with what citizens see as the American Dream.

Careers with strong growth potential

Careers with strong growth potential

Whether you’re just starting out or switching professions, check out these promising fields.

Looking to rebound from the recession in a new, growing career? Whether you’re on the brink of embarking on your first career, switching careers, or looking for work after a slump, the good news is that there are some careers that aren’t going anywhere. Check out these careers with strong growth factors – then see if any are right for you.

Career 1 – Accountant

If you’re comfortable working with numbers, there’s lots of opportunity out there for helping individuals and companies manage their money as an accountant. To qualify for this role, you’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related area, says the U.S. Department of Labor.

Growth Factor: The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that between 2008 and 2018, accounting will be one of the fastest-growing occupations in the country with 22 percent growth. The profession is projected to add 279,000 jobs in the ten year time frame.

What Accountants Do: Accountants balance books, prepare tax returns, keep management informed on the company’s financial health, and help the company exercise sound judgment when buying assets of any kind.

Career 2 – Registered Nurse (RN)

Want to pursue opportunities in a growing – and rewarding – industry? Look into earning either an associate’s or bachelor’s in nursing or a nursing diploma.

Growth Factor: The U.S. Department of Labor says nursing will grow 22 percent from 2008 and 2018. Translated to the number of jobs, that’s 581,500 new RN positions.

What RNs Do: RNs provide patient care and education to those with medical conditions. They might administer medication, perform diagnostic tests, and run blood drives.

Career 3 – Computer Systems Analyst

If you’re looking for a growing career that requires big-picture thinking, computer systems analyst might be the right option for you. Consider earning a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field.

Growth Factor: The U.S. Department of labor projects 20 percent job growth (108,100 computer systems analyst positions) from 2008-2018.

What Computer Systems Analysts Do: Computer systems analysts help implement and improve existing computer systems, reviewing capabilities, analyzing requirements, and making recommendations for software.

Career 4 – Dental Assistant

If you’re looking for careers with a strong rebound factor, dental assisting takes the cake. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, this is one of the fastest growing professions from 2008-2018. The best part: You could potentially qualify to pursue opportunities in this field with a one-year dental assisting program.

Growth Factor: The U.S. Department of Labor expects 36 percent growth (105,600 new jobs) in this field between 2008 and 2018.

What Dental Assistants Do: Dental assistants perform a variety of functions in a dentist’s office, including preparing patients for procedures and updating dental records.

Career 5 – Computer Support Specialist

If there’s one industry that shows no signs of slowing down, it’s computer technology. Prepare for opportunities in one section of this growing field with an associate’s degree in information technology or computer science.

Growth Factor: According to the U.S. Department of Labor, this profession is projected to experience 14 percent growth from 2008-2018. That’s 78,000 new jobs.

What Computer Support Specialists Do: Technical support specialists provide support and advice to computer users, writing training manuals, responding to questions, and resolving technical issues.