Weekly Data

WHAT THE DATA SAY: As debt climbs again, 40% of Americans have no emergency fund

By: Ray Day


Ray Day

We wanted to share our latest consumer and business insights, based on research from Stagwell. Among the highlights of our weekly consumer sentiment tracking:


The economic outlook is quite different depending on whether you speak with business leaders or individuals, according to our fifth annual 2024 Milken Institute-Harris Poll Listening Project.

  • 81% of business leaders believe the U.S. economy is strong, 84% are optimistic about their industry’s future, and 81% are optimistic about their company.
  • In contrast, only 40% of Americans believe that the economy is strong, and 72% say “economists say things are getting better, but we’re not feeling it where I live.”
  • AI is the second most disruptive issue for a company today – with 87% of business leaders calling it very or somewhat disruptive, along with financial uncertainty (88%), cybersecurity (84%), changing generational values (82%) and inconsistent government policies (82%).
  • 73% of Americans believe the country is losing its global leadership position, and 69% say “America is no longer competitive in the global economy.”
  • 71% of Americans believe “innovation is bubbling up in local communities, but national media is missing this story.”



The 2024 Atlantic hurricane season is expected to be the strongest in recent years, yet more than half of Americans (52%) would only have enough food in their home for one or two days if there were a widespread power outage, according to our Harris Poll research with Generac.

  • 71% of Americans would be concerned with food spoilage if their home experienced an extended power outage.
  • 50% would struggle financially to replace perishable food lost due to an extended power outage.
  • 36% have medical devices powered by electricity that they or someone in their home use daily.
  • 77% of pet owners are willing to risk their own comfort to stay with their pets at home during extended power outages.



Most Americans believe it will take more than two decades to pay off their student loans, according to our Harris Poll research with Northwestern Mutual.

  • Americans saving for college think it will cost more than $77,000 – a debt they don’t expect to pay off until age 45.
  • 2 in 10 Americans who are saving for higher education for a loved one are simultaneously paying off their own college loans.
  • Americans’ personal non-mortgage debt edged higher this year to nearly $23,000 – after several years of paying down debts. The leading source is credit cards.
  • Millennials and Gen X have the most debt, and many say they’re carrying their highest level of debt ever.
  • 40% of Americans do not have an emergency fund.



Stagwell is hosting the “Future of News Summit” next Wednesday, May 15 in New York. The summit is the culmination of groundbreaking Stagwell research on journalism and advertising. While news is the foundation of a thriving democracy, advertising tied to certain kinds of news is increasingly being attacked under the banner of “brand safety.” This has been used to scare businesses into pulling back from news advertising, which, in turn, is weakening the journalism model.

  • Along with an overview of the research findings, the summit will include award-winning journalists and top brand leaders who will discuss the continued power in news driving strong business results.
  • Among the leaders joining are: Hannah Beckler, Business Insider; Jason Conti, Dow Jones; Jason Rezaian, The Washington Post; Megan Twohey, The New York Times; Tara Carraro, U. S. Steel; Will Doherty, The Trade Desk; Dan Gardner, Code and Theory; Shenan Reed, General Motors; Lou Paskalis, Ad Fontes Media; Mark Penn, chairman and CEO, Stagwell; and Ray Day, vice chair, Stagwell.
  • Want to know more about Stagwell’s commitment to news? Sign up to receive the findings at this link or reach out to Alexis.Williams@StagwellGlobal.com.



In case you missed it, check out some of the thought-leadership and happenings around Stagwell making news:



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