Monday, January 9, 2012

Already 2012

In looking back at the survey we have now done the past three years, it looks like the consumer is starting to believe things are getting better, even if ever so slightly.  We have seen in the news that unemployment is down, consumer confidence is up and housing starts are starting to creep up.  All this when a congress can’t seem to decide what to do to stimulate the economy without partisan fighting.

74% of consumers believe that 2012 with be at least somewhat better than 2010. As compared to 55% in 2010 (for 2011) and 76% in 2009 (for 2010).

This can be seen even more when you look at holiday spending in December 2011 versus December 2010 and December 2009.

In 2011, 41% of consumers spent more on gifts than they did in 2010.     Though it does still note, some sectors are still going to have trouble in 2012, as consumers are refocusing their spending and making cuts where they can, though a slight decrease in percentage can be seen. For example, in 2011, 64% cut dinners out versus 69% in 2010.  Unfortunately, we do not know if they cut more dinners out in 2011 or have just continued to not go out to dinner.

One of the factors that may be helping the consumer perception for 2012 is the number of Full Time Employed has increased as unemployment has decreased.  So, while there may be some unemployed not currently part of the US unemployment rate, consumers who answered our survey are employed more in 2011 versus 2010.

Though employed, it seems many may have taken a job that has them working for less or working as “under employed”.  But, on a high note, the numbers that were laid off has declined steadily over the past three years.

Looking again at consumer spending, there seems to be more people in the market for a number of items, with appliances being an item that was purchased regardless of year.  Also, new car purchases were up significantly over 2009 and 2010.
 When we asked consumer who they felt was to blame for the state of the current economy, answers were all over the board.  Many blamed the government and big business, while others also believed that individuals just spent more than they could afford.  However, one thing stood out, over 60% blamed big banks, and 40% blamed both the Senate and the House for our state of woe.

Some write in responses from consumers are below:

  • Big Business and the wealthy holding the country and the average citizen hostage, to get tax breaks for themselves.
  • Big Corporations like GE, Dodd-Frank, Bill Clinton, NAFTA
  • Bush for the expensive war that he engaged America in and he never got Bin Laden
  • Complicated mixture, but mainly expecting the government to take care of everyone/everything--increases costs for businesses, increases taxes, decreases incentive . . .
  • consumers living beyond their means for extended periods
  • consumers who spend more than they make
  • Corporate greed and corruption
  • Corporate greed and lack of compassion
  • Government waste, entitlement programs, private sector unions, public sector unions, home loans to unqualified home buyers, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae
  • greed of politicians
  • Greedy, ineffectual short sighted individuals in government not able to or want to do the job they should do.
  • Lenders who gave home loans to anyone who could breathe.
  • local and federal govts, want more taxes, meanwhile they are in office forever. Also, outdated Union philosphy and pensions is bankrupting us
  • Loss of jobs overseas to many different countries outsourcing
  • Loss of jobs to other countries
  • loss of jobs to other country
  • Lost jobs due to NAFTA and other 'Free Trade' assoc.
  • mortgage bankers
  • The military-industrial complex, including the Pentagon. Money is being spent on war and war debt when it could improve our infrastructure and create more jobs.
  • The politicians as a whole are responsible for the current state of our economy.
  • The previous president and his staff.
  • The U.S. press.
  • the wars in the middle east
  • those in government that weren't doing there job, but just taking a pay check
  • Tolerated Corruption & Greed all levels of government
  • Too many tax breaks that sent jobs overseas
  • TOO much spending and regulations by federal govt
  • transition to a service economy
  • Turmoil between the US and the rest of the countries causing inflation in gas and oil prices

It is also evident that consumers believe it is time for this country to put the infighting to the side and actually get down to the business of fixing America.  The political posturing is the number one item that consumers mentioned when it came to “telling their government one thing”.  Most consumers felt that politicians need to play by the rules that govern everyday Americans.  That they should not be entitled to special exemptions, health care, pensions etc.  That they need to actually talk to their constituents and look around.  If they thought more of the people and less of big business, they would be able to fix the things that mean the most to people, jobs and housing.

So, here is hoping that the rest of this election year, politician’s start listening to consumers and get something done. 

And just in case any politician is wondering what they need to focus on for the 2012 election, here are the top 10 concerns of the American people.
  1. Jobs/unemployment 68%
  2. Healthcare affordability 60%
  3. Education: Funding and compliance 49%
  4. Balanced Budget 48%
  5. Right for a Women to choose 48%
  6. National security 47%
  7. Housing 44%
  8. Federal deficit reduction 41%
  9. Criminal Justice: Reducing crime, managing resources and juvenile justice systems 40%
  10. Medicaid inefficiencies and quality 40%

While we at AIM hope that 2012 proves to be an excellent year.  We also hope that the politicians and media listen to the American people and get to work.

This survey was sent out on December 31, 2011 to a random sample across the United States where AIM-Chicago has conducted research.  1391 respondents answered the survey for 2011.

In case you were wondering what people “really” had to say if asked….  “If you were able to tell the government one thing, what would it be?”

Some direct quotes (spelling errors and all):

  • Reduce taxes, stimulate growth.
  • Stop worrying about other countries when you have issues with your own.
  • Spend less, invest more.
  • Repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.
  • You must protect our country and children.
  • Quit it with the tax breaks for the large companies! You have been threatened and the larger companies got what they wanted. I find it extremely hard to believe that the companies who make millions and millions of dollars a year can’t pay their weight in taxes. I feel when you give them a tax break you are enforcing the smaller companies and the people to cover it. It is Bull! At least settle with them and make a deal. Have they "donated" money for schools or low income neighborhoods? It’s not fair that I have to keep paying more and more taxes yet the big dogs walk away clean, why?
  • Printing more money is not the answer to a problem that was created largely by excessive money printing in the first place.
  • stop paying unemployment to people who are not actively seeking employment
  • Try to work together and help the people, forget about your political party
  • I think investment in middle class "good" jobs is very important. Jobs that are career based and have growth potential.
  • please concentrate on more Jobs
  • That people are fed up with the "politics" going on in Congress right now and that people want their problems solved.
  • Do something about the economy!
  • Please stop worrying about what voters will think, and take action to better our country. Voters want a politician with character!
  • Please give American companies more incentives to bring back the jobs to the US.
  • Cut spending.
  • Focus on our country!! Work together across party lines for the better good of America and swallow your pride as a "Republican" or "Democrat".
  • Reduce YOURSELF by a minimum of 50% and 100% of You take a Reduction in pay.
  • Make the banks pay back and start paying interest on savings accounts
  • Work together to get something done! Our economy needs jobs jobs!
  • Work together, everything should be for the good of the nation not the dem or rep. Come together as one unite with different ideas not seperation and God is a good thing everyone needs somethign to beleive in and no on seems to be able to beleive in the goverment
  • Be more accountable.
  • Please fix the deficit, stimulate the economy and have some over sight over these big companies that have played a large part in breaking the country.
  • Think about the good of the country, not yourselves.
  • Reduced the national debt to increase surplus instead. A fresh new start to all citizens who were affected by the economy and erase 50% of debts of citizens and bad credit scores.
  • get their shit together and stop fighting with each other
  • Let's start in our own country first. There's so much that needs to be done here for American citizens before government should start sticking their neck out to assist other countries.
  • need better tax system for homeowners
  • One thing I've noticed lately is that I feel like there's always a hurry to make things happen during an election year. In between, there's so much fighting between parties and nothing gets done. But during an election year, everyone tries to work together and make progress. If everyone would have that mentality all year long, there would be so much less waste.
  • Please help the middle class. People that barely make any money - get so much for free. The rich - get so much benefits handed to them, too. The middle class - that could use help - can't get help at all. My husband lost his job and I made just $2000 too much a year - for any assistance. Yet, if I quit my job and didn't work - I could have so much more benefits. sad.
  • get off your tails and do something
  • stop bailing out corporate America and start helping the people! We are the ones who pay you!!!!
  • please pay attention to the everyday people. we are your backbone. we are the people that make up this country. it it wasn't for us your wouldn't have a job. we believed in you once and you need our continued support.
  • Why do you help the rich more than you help the poor or struggling.
  • Get our world back to a place where we can pay our bills.
  • For the house and senate, do what is in the best interest for all citizens, not what the lobbyist tell you or your party tells you. Do what you know is right.
  • Get it together. Stop being so greedy.
  • If illegal is "illegal" then anyone doing illegal activity should be procecuted as such. Citizens should not be paying for "illegals" under any circumstances. Put the funds toward those that are citizens of this country.
  • stop the whining and fix it already
  • Work together
  • bring soldiers home
  • cut the spending and the greed
  • The banks should be held responsible for the huge mess they created with housing loans..People in charge during that time should be prosecuted.
  • leave Obama's health care plan alone; don't mess with social security; rein in big business; stop with the partisan bickering
  • work together...that is why they were elected
  • Try to get your acts together and become more united as one for the people who are suffering in this country. Also, worry about the people here in America rather than sending money to other countries to help them.
  • To concentrate more on matters in our country.
  • To actually listen to what the public is saying to you. If we have to cut our family budget to make ends meet, so should they
  • Make unilateral cuts, regardless of "pet" programs.
  • All branches need to work together in a coordinated manner for the benefit of the public.
  • Let's help those people here in this country that need help before sending aid to foreign countries
  • Stop fighting with each other. Wasting time and money.
  • If you pass a law for your constituents, make it apply to yourself as well. No more exceptions (ie: Senators and Congressman have free healthcare, no longer responsible to pay back college loans, have Medicare like the rest of us, and so on and so on)
  • We need to have a government based on morals, ethics, honesty and dedicated the well-being of the people. Let's stop wasting money and time on greedy desire for power. Let's get things back into perspective and focus on the value of human life. Money and power must not be our GOD!!!!!
  • Stop pandering to the wealthy and allowing them to buy off the system
  • That as a 'middle class' citizen, I am very concerned about my ability to get ahead financially in order to ever start planning a family.
  • Afforable health care is needed for all americans.
  • Bring jobs back to America.
  • Act!, reduce waste abroad.
  • figure out simpler ways to truly help the avg american in these tough times. get rid of the red tape and bureacracy that allows no one to receive any help when supposedly its 'readily available'
  • more regualtions on social services. be firm. andhave cut off dates. peolpe abuse the systems way to often
  • Stop bickering and get things done.
  • -start working together for the benefit of the nation -act like professionals -respect the people that elected you
  • stop sending money overseas and take care of our people first.
  • Your job is to manage national resources for the greater good of all in the US & the world, not to start pointless mikitary engagements nor to cut assistance to the needy.
  • Manage the country better. Focus on our needs. Maybe drill for oil here for a set time-frame. Show that we are not vulnerable and that we are self-sufficient.
  • For congress to learn how to compromise and get something done.
  • Stop hammering the working middle class people with taxes. Stricter rulings on people wanting and accepting welfare. Enable people to earn for themselves and stop giving the most unworthy people handouts.
  • Help our own country first. Help create a work program for the unemployed vs handing out free money to those in poverty. Also increase social security pension for those WHO HAVE worked their entire life and have no savings.
  • Be more efficient.
  • Get more active in the people's opinions
  • Balance the federal budget!
  • It is time to focus on the needs of the middle class. We've had the corporate bailouts. The working class need a break.
  • tell them to live off of what the bluecollar worker has to live on, that would save the governemt alot of money
  • stop sending jobs to other country
  • Stop spending our tax money to other countries, if the US does not need it, we can stop paying them anytime.
  • quit spending unecessaary money
  • Keep Americans in there home through whatever means possible. Every American has quality health care Some enforcement that jobs are given to all American without dicrimination
  • Stop sending jobs overseas and create more jobs domestically.
  • Instead of raising our taxes cut some politicans pay instead to help the government
  • Stop wasting money. Tax equally and find ppl jobs
  • Focus on education and job training
  • we need economic stability NOW as the economy is getting worse and soon the dollar will not be the world reserve currency
  • Congress should not be able to have anything that the citizens do not have access to and must participate in anything that citizens are rqured to participate in.
  • work together and put partisan politics aside
  • cut spending, reduce healthcare costs. No more footing of the healthcare insurance for life for those who receive.
  • Stop being so corrupt and care about people and the environment.
  • Lower the damn taxes- we barely have money to live.
  • Cut your pay
  • Get it together!
  • Legalize gay marriage nationally
  • Please stop allowing big business to run this show. Also, I would suggest that owners of big businesses and the wealthy heed the advice of Warren Buffett--(paraphrased)... If you have got it, give it, and we will all get out of this financial mess that much sooner. Sorry, if that presents too much of the "big picture."
  • Get your act together...think like our founding father In God we Trust, for the people!!!!!
  • quit giving yourself raises, take away their expense accounts and quit the wasteful spending
  • not raising taxes
  • take care of the middle to lower class of people
  • learn to compromise and get things done! stalemates bowing to special interests accomplish nothing for EVERYONE
  • in economic terms, the most powerful person in the United States is the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board. The President probably has the least control over the economy of any major government player. The belief that Obama deserves blame for recession or credit for recoveries is an economic myth. When it comes to the economy, The president is at the mercy of the Financial markets & their business cycle.The House,Obama & senate needs to find a way to work with business often their fortune (or misfortune) with the economy depends on what happened in the previous administration. There are tools to influence the business cycle, but the Senate & the House gives the President almost no control over them.
  • Please take the time effort and dollars to help AMERICANS! It always seems that we are helping every other country and over looking the desperate needs of our own.
  • get rid of welfare
  • Please remember that you got elected to make things better for ALL AMERICANS. STOP at the fighting on our dime and do your JOBS because American Citizens elected you to represent them and make America better for all.
  • Balance the budget and quit running the country in the red
  • Stop fighting and work together to help fix the problems we have.
  • Quit being so controlling! We are a free country so stop taking away our freedoms!
  • Get your act together and quit fighting across the aisle. We need compromise not fighting.
  • People are out here struggling- get your act together!
  • do more to create jobs that are not temporary jobs
  • get your act together
  • that we need to incorporate some morals into our country, honesty, responsibility, and
  • To look at the people and decided what is best for them
  • Listen to the people. I am fed up with partisan politics.
  • To get their act together and find solutions instead of creating more problems, especially for middle to lower class people. We all need a break, but why do we continue to make the rich richer?
  • Contribute to education funding to guarantee a better future.
  • Let's think about the people other than the 'rich'
  • Put our currency back on a gold standard.
  • You bailed out the banks and big business… what about small business? We account for the majority of job growth and yet all we get is our lines of credits taken from us and 90 days to pay them off.  THANK YOU BofA!!!
  • Stop offering services to illegal aliens.
  • Redirect military spending to retrain people for domestic jobs to: 1.) improve our infrastructure and make us leaders in non-nuclear renewable energy, and 2) create accessible, affordable, efficient public transportation in every major city in the country.
  • Stop every pork barrel add on from being put in every bill sent to the floor for passage
  • Support small farms, care more about the environment than big businesses.
  • Pack up, go home, let somebody with a work ethic, the ability to compromise, and intelligence try.
  • I would tell them to remember the Middle Class...Please
  • make a agreement much quicker and better ones for middle class which would help the economy if they would do this
  • Quit being so busy trying to keep your jobs that you forget to DO your jobs
  • Start being fiscally responsible.
  • Start getting along and get the work done instead of arguing with each other. We all have to go to work and get along with our co-workers and get things done. We "hire" you to work, stop worring so much about the re-election image. Stop insulting each other and just talk about what you were able to accomplish and people can decide if that's who they want from that record.
  • The government really need to get their act together!
  • start working together and stop operating out of political interests only
  • vote per your constituents/morally rather than for money.
  • Stop trying to one-up each other and get something done to help Americans. You work for us and you are not doing your job. If you worked anywhere else you would have been fired!!
  • help those who help themselves.
  • adhere to the Constitution and live within its means (which does NOT include more taxes); the US was founded on the principal of equal "opportunity", not trying to equalize the "outcomes" for all; our "housing" mess is from prior Congresses and Administrations trying to ensure EVERYBODY could have a home, whether or not they could afford it
  • Stop making working class citizens pay for everything ( we take care of the rich & the poor ) & bring jobs back to America.
  • work together and get this economy going again
  • STOP SPENDING MONEY YOU DON"T HAVE!!! Balance the budget!!
  • Let the states decide what is best for their state.
  • please don't waste tax payers money and cut costs
  • stop spending so much money and wasting so much time
  • Let there be equality for ALL no matter what!
  • to worry about our country and its people before we begin to help other countries
  • Stop spending money needlessly, stop taking such high salaries, no body needs to make that much money.
  • Create the jobs that were promised by bailing out Wall Street
  • we would to disapear the bank sistem!
  • The role of the government should be limited.
  • stop arguing and do it
  • Take care of business at home and not so much foreign aid.
  • get are boys home so we can fix are economy
  • Get up off your rear ends and start working for the people that elected you and stop working for the big businesses. Make some type of move to assist the middle class before you break our country all together. You should all be fired and replaced.
  • Worry about the US not other Countries.
  • protect the middle class
  • Permanently stop Lobbyists. Plus other corporate or other rich people from donating any more than $1000.00 to any 1 campaign/office for any given year.
  • You guys are "The Problem".
  • To cap all budgets like in sports.
  • Take care of Americans and find out the wrong doings of congress and the senate
  • Please fund teachers' pension
  • If they haven't noticed, the country is a mess. All branches and parties in the government need to begin to work together instead of fighting one another to fix the country.
  • We once depended on our governmet to make sure things were acounted for. Now?? Too much fighting amoung politicins and government, that we as the people don't feel they care about us little people whom work hard everyday for our future children, we have no good confidence with our government, jobs seemed to slip away from MADE IN THE U.S.A. in which that kept jobs for the real hard working man and a future for our kids, the school systems are not what we need for our kids of the future, people on welfare way too long, because they know how our system works, Medical insurance is so high for the average income family to go to the doctor when ill that they just don't go, Medicines, well now thats Ridiculous!!! The mark up is so out of touch, that people would just rather do without! So you then ask what I can tell the government, that is just a tip of the iceberg, I'm sad to tell my kids that this was once a great nation, big maufacturing was once done here, now they send it to other countries and again just like our government, who is really watching?? I believe in this great nation because my grandparents worked really hard to make it what it was! It's hard to keep that as a strong thought anymore!
  • take better care of the middle class.
  • to listen to the american people and not special interest groups
  • Tell the Republicans to grow up and quit trying to tell the President what to do (John Boehner is a weasel)
  • Lower taxes so we have more money to spend.
  • figure out how to get along and work together. Too separate between parties.
  • Get your act together and stop acting like you're in high school. It's just sad. It's time to grow up.
  • stop lying
  • Please think about the choices that you make and ask yourself with all seriousness, "Does this really make sense?"
  • Balance the budget and stop the President from making czar appointments.
  • Quit worrying about your salaries and start being concerned about the people.
  • when are you going to take pay cuts and pay for your own health insurance and cut your huge pensions. they havent given up anything they are all crooks!
  • Imagine having to live life as an ordinary citizen.
  • stop spending
  • Unemployment is the most important problem in our country to focus on right now.
  • Listen to the people. You should take care of home first before you take care of anything else. We have homeless here yet we are trying to manage everyone else business.
  • welfare and food stamps need more rules and limitations.
  • Remember that this is the USA not a socailist state
  • Really put yourself in somebodies elese shoes
  • No more taxes
  • No Child Left Behind has ruined our public education system. EVERYONE DESERVES HEALTH INSURANCE!!!!
  • Control wasteful spending.
  • save more, spend less
  • Pull back international aid - focus on domestic issues
  • Stop all the bickering and get down with more important issues like getting our Country back on it's fee again.
  • They need to fix this ASAP!
  • Listen to the people.
  • Government is too big and intrusive!
  • Let's focus on making our country the #1 priority. And tax the wealthy more.
  • Help the people in need IN THIS COUNTRY & stop spending so much on war!
  • Stop bickering and try to fix this country.
  • Tax the rich for God's sake. Quit killing the middle class. The only reason the republicans don't want to do it is because their backers are the 1%!
  • stop the partisanship
  • Cut useless spending not needed programs.
  • live a day in our shoes and get back to me
  • cut taxes
  • Pull together for the American People not for yourselves alone.
  • Press banks for they did not or are not helping those who need to refinance their homes. They are not hurting. It is important for those who lost their homes.
  • keep Obama's health plan
  • look to God for answers to save our nation from all the turmoil that has been going on
  • Work harder and come together as both parties to fix the economy.
  • try being honest, with yourself and others
  • Focus on the issues to maintain the Country that we want to live on and do not put all resources into elections and re-elections. I want to know who is getting tax money, where and for what, I want a thorough audit of each organization and budget goals set. I want to know exactly who is contribution to election campaigns and how much. I rather we give each candidate a fixed rate from our taxes and limit them to spending only that amount.
  • Provide mandatory service for all people between the ages of 18 and 21 for at least a year and if they go to college make for the year following college.
  • reduce spending
  • great
  • more social reform
  • leave teachers alone
  • Reduce deficit -- get rid of perks & cut salary of government
  • Cooperation is a good thing when reasonable compromises are made and each side gains a bit of what they want. Stop pursuing no win scenarios.
  • Do your job! Create jobs!
  • Stop spending our money incorrectly! Stop raises taxes!!!! If they cut taxes might not people start spending more of their money?????
  • stop letting the stupid minority (Tea Party) run things
  • Stop screwing us!!!!
  • everyone in goverment is being overpaid. They need to cut their salaries and benefits too.
  • stop spending so much on aid to hostile countries!!!!!!! give more aid to countries that are our allies.
  • Please take care of the National Healthcare system Obama has authorized.
  • not sure
  • Stop spending what you don't have
  • stop spending foolishly
  • Try to think more in the middle. You will always have major conflicts is you are too far right and too far left. this will prohibit you from seeing all sides and thinking outside the box.
  • It is a crime that people of my age group (pre 65) can't afford to see a doctor and can't afford private health insurance.
  • get the job done or be voted out of office after 1 term
  • The government needs to stop spending, stop issueing raises to the Congressmen, The common citizen is not getting increases.
  • change the President now!
  • Get rid of the corrupt people. Make sure you give help to those who need help the most. A lot of people are taking advantage of government help and yet so complacent about working hard to look for job.
  • Get with the real times and listen to the American people. Take care of America before any other country. Listen to the young, they have some good ideas.
  • Do not change the healthcare system.
  • we need more jobs, healthcare & bring our troops home!
  • Quit spending money you don't have.
  • don't raise taxes
  • get your act together you are awful people who use to b middle class are poverty now thanks obama
  • Don't tax the rich for working hard.
  • Stop spending the money carelessly
  • Help those of us who are under the poverty limit
  • Get your act together and work together instead of against each other!
  • Reduce the debit
  • Start with Education. Education is most important because the children are our future and without education there will be jobs created for the future. They won't work to pay into social security to pay the people who will need it 10-20 years from now.
  • They Suck
  • Focus on the important things and quit wasting time and money on the not so important!
  • stop blaming President Obama for things they know was done by Bush and stop fighting against him.
  • Get your act together together
  • Work together.
  • nothing
  • Stop making everything about parties (Dem or Rep) and get things done.
  • stop over spending
  • Do something about healthcare costs
  • People of all ages are affected by loss of incomes. Stop stripping us of our daily needs to only increase the states demands.
  • Listen to the people stop supporting big businesses
  • quit taking money from social security to fund projects and quit spending tax payers money
  • Fix medicare, do the pipeline and get out of the way let us fix the country.
  • Switch your priviliged life with me and maybe then you will cut off your special interests and see what it was liek to once be middle class.
  • We need jobs!!!
  • I can't think of anything right now.
  • stop spending money on foreign aid
  • Quit living in debt like the rest of America is learning to do.
  • Tell the whole truth all the time.
  • more jobs necessary!
  • i am female 49 diable and now they are messing with our medications saying medicade wont pay
  • Get you act together
  • Get it together---realize the statement "the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer." The unemployment numbers are not an actual depection of the real state of the middle-class.
  • Compromise - it's what real adults do every day. The Senate and House of Representatives should be ashamed of their infantile behavior.
  • Cut Spending... Balance budgets, cut salaries. Really review expenses.
  • Stabilize the population of the U.S., limit immigration and work towards providing better opportunities for current Americans to work and create green technology, and American made products.
  • They have alot to work on!!!
  • Our countries problems should always be the top priority!
  • stop tax breaks for rich people
  • create more jobs for the older person too, not just the college kids.
  • stop all the waste
  • lower are taxes
  • Stop the fighting and forget about race. Think about all people and the rich and the poor. Be fair
  • Aim at reducing Defense spending by 50% over the next ten years; invest that funding in human services and debt reduction.
  • Hold the specific people accountable for the poor/greedy decisions.
  • instead of funding other countries and giving non- americans business loans that have no interest rates or taxes added or pay back for so much time..try helping or lending some americans
  • Please install the national health plan.
  • Smaller government is better. Lower taxes help businesses grow.
  • Tax Cut
  • do better and do your best. Only people matter in this world, what else?
  • Ask the people and listen to those who are going to be affected with final decisions.
  • Act responsibly: cease military adventurism, balance the budget, adopt universal health care, eliminate foreign aid, stringently enforce immigration laws/deport all illegals, abolish law giving American citizenship to a new born when parents are illegal, stress civil rights/liberties and equality for all American (gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation), abolish the separate health care and pension for Congress, prosecute any government official who accepts favors to influence his actions or who lies in the course of a political campaign.
  • Get rid of politicians who make their terms lifetime.
  • stop spending
  • Represent your constituency
  • spend wisely. Work together in government for the good of all regardless of party
  • if you are going to propose or vote on issues, do them separately and stop attaching riders or creating contingencies that makeunrelated items dependent on beingpassed with others
  • To keep the cost of daily necessities and standard of living from increasing further.
  • nothing
  • Get it togther
  • for all parties to get along to come to the conclusion for the best of us citizens.
  • Stop focusing on other countries problems and focus on the United States issues.
  • Quit spending money fixing others' problems and start worrying about our own problems!!!
  • stop making the rich richer, if you want to find more money for the budget tax the ones who have it to spare
  • I'm still waiting to see this "hope and change"
  • Deport all illegal aliens. Reduce or stop foreign aid. Stop spending tax payer money on unneeded expenses.
  • develop a plan to reduce the widespread unemployment
  • Nothing.
  • education healthcare foreign aid/friends economy
  • work together to get things done. your embarrassing us!
  • Obama is an excellent presidet. He must be allowed to lead. The new normal is not good enough. The unemployed cant find jobs, the old cant retire and those in between live in constant fear of being tapped on the shoulder and thrust into the abyss. Property values are lower than a snake's belly, stocks are diving and gold the fear asset seems the only sound investment
  • Get the troops out of Afghanistan and bring them home. Work on creating new jobs by creating incentives and helping people buy American products.
  • More jobs
  • efficiency in all things (military, healthcare, education, etc.)
  • Stop bickering within the parties. Agree to disagree but keep the nation on an even keel to regain and maintain the "BEST NATION" position.
  • get it togeter
  • Please help all of the Americans in need before you send aid to others.
  • Stop acting like children and start remembering WHO put you in the powerful job you now have and whose tax dollars actually PAY your salary. Come up with some real solutions. Feel our pain.
  • get economy going and reduce unemployment. do not raise taxes
  • I would say hey lets all work together and get the country economy back on trak
  • Please get our country on track!
  • you need to help lower middle class.
  • Stop giving all of our jobs and money away to other countries and rich folks. Make the rich give $ to individuals not groups that decide who gets it. Have a "buddy system" for $
  • Make decisions as it it was for your family and with your money.
  • quit borrowing money and have balanced budget
  • All our personal information, state wages, background checks are fairly accessible (some with fees), why aren't YOURS!????
  • try to help our own country before we help everyone else. Also governement needs to take cuts on their own salaries.
  • Quit spending so much in foreign aid - we have starving, homeless, poor people here. You need food, we need oil .. price of oil goes up, price of food will go up accordingly.
  • Please help the United States with any kind of affordable funding for people in need or that are in crisis such as lowering prices of food, affordable health insurance, affordable houseing to low income people, stock market increase, and make promises to the American people ensuring us that 2012 will be a better year in evey way possible. Thank you very much!
  • quit pandering to special interests and re-read the autobiography of Teddy Roosevelt!
  • Work on the issues not on badgering each other
  • Stop spending money you don't have and Balance the budget
  • To try to do right by the people as so many are struggling these days instead of politics as usual and trying to buy votes
  • Curb out of control spending!
  • Be equal with the little people. They have a differnt pay/pension/health benefits. Don't seem fair?
  • Reduce spending, reduce borrowing, strong national defense.
  • find ways to work with each other - things have gotten way too partisan
  • Control the big banks.
  • Stop taxing the middle class. I can't afford anything with you taxing us in everything we do.
  • I would tell the Congress to stop thinking only of themselves and start thinking about the people who elected them.
  • Stop spending and stop raising taxes
  • Right to life!
  • everyone including the president...TAKE A HUGE PAY CUT!
  • don't promise what you don't have ability to do
  • Close our borders so Americans can get jobs instead of everyone for any country taking our jobs in our homeland. Isn't it bad enough that we outsource employment instead of hiring our own americans?
  • End the corruption on all levels. The Greed and corruption are destroying this great country. Please put an End to it.
  • reduce taxes.
  • Do what you are supposed to do,what you w--ere elected for .Stop playing politics. Don't mess with social security.Balance the budget.
  • quite wasting money
  • America comes first!!!!!
  • forget which party you belong to, and start making decisions that benefit the majority of our country (not just the pols themselves and the fat cats)
  • stop arguing, get SOMETHING accomplished
  • Mind your own business take care of us 1st!!! stop lying, cheating, and robbing from us... working/tax paying people.
  • Stop getting pissy with each other and work for the people that are paying you.
  • The one thing that we absolutely know for sure is that if we don’t work harder than we did in 2008, then the government is gong to tell us "YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN" I would tell the government “That’s not the America I believe in. It’s not the America I believe in.”
  • To stop being the UN and let other countries help in international aid
  • ?
  • stop raising taxes and figure out this foreclosure issues and doing something about big banks that are screwing all of us!
  • Grow Up!!
  • Stop disagreeing
  • Revamp congress (establish term limits, restructure salary and benefits to fall in line with federal civilian employees GS system, introduce performance standards and methods to measure meaningfully, incorporate penalties for failure to perform duties successfully i.e. budget passage, etc.)
  • I would let them know that I am grateful to live in America and that I support them and their decisions. I believe that they make decisions based on the good of all of us.
  • Stop spending my money so foolishly.
  • Send me a stimulus check now
  • Make the senators and representatives have term limits. I'm tired of them living off the government their whole lives. They shouldn't get any pay after they leave office-they should have to live off of social security and their own investments like the rest of us. They also need to grow up and start acting like adults when they're in session, not ilk a bunch of SPOILED brats because they can't always have their own way. I also think that taxes should be raised on the wealthy. The reason the Republicans voted against this is because they are the wealthy ones and they were protecting themselves.
  • Fairness is important.
  • focus on national economy & creating private sector jobs
  • Get your fiscal house in order.
  • Stop continuously wasting money, get our deficit in order
  • help!
  • create more jobs cut taxes help for the unemployed ....
  • Stop spending

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Time To Brag a bit:

Living in Chicago, the Olympics were a time to mourn and a time to celebrate. We mourned the loss of the Summer Olympics awarded to Brazil, we mourned the NBC coverage of the Olympics, but we celebrated all the great Olympians from Chicago.

Now, it is amazing to me that NBC chose to show some sports in time delay versus other sports live and in HD. The one a major flaw in their programming was the preliminary USA Versus USA Canada Men’s Hockey game… why was this on MSNBC, not in HD? Every broadcaster seemed to think this was “the game to see”, yet the brass at NBC chose to air ice dancing in the prime time spot. Now, I admit, I am a hockey fan, so my opinion is biased, but I did an unscientific poll with friends, families and acquaintances and found that 80% were looking forward to watching ice hockey, not ice dancing. Even those that are not hockey fans said “the hype” about the game made them want to tune in. So I ask you NBC, what were you thinking?

What makes this even more perplexing, is that when they did show the USA vs. Canada gold medal game, 27.6 million viewers tuned in (it peaked at 34.8 million in overtime). (Nielsen rating) Did NBC think this was a fluke? Even if half the viewers watched the preliminary game, that would still be 13.8 Million viewers, which is on par with total viewership for the NBA finals (14.3 million).

But enough about NBC, it’s time to brag about our Chicago Olympians. Congratulations to all of you!

Our Chicago Black Hawks were well represented:

• Patrick Kane- USA~ Silver

• Jonathan Toews- Canada ~ Gold

• Duncan Keith- Canada ~ Gold

• Brent Seabrook- Canada~ Gold

• Tomas Kopecky– Slovakia – 4th

• Marian Hossa – Slovakia – 4th

As were others that trained and or lived in the Chicagoland area:

• Evan Lysacek, Figure Skating ~ Gold

• Lisa Chesson, Ice Hockey ~ Silver

• Jinelle Zaugg-Siergiej, Ice Hockey~ Silver

• Jonathan Kuck, Speedskating ~ Silver

• Brian Hansen, Speedskating ~Silver

• Shani Davis, Speedskating ~ Gold

• Katherine Reutter, Speedskating ~ Silver

• Lana Gehring, Speedskating ~Bronz

• Jamie Moriarty, Bobsled

• Ben Agosto, Figure Skating

• Nancy Swider-Peltz, Jr., Speedskating

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Going Gadget Happy

I’ve gone a bit Gadget Crazy!

I admit it, I am gadget happy, techno geek wanna be. When I can “feed the beast” and have it benefit both AIM and my clients, I feel vindicated. So what gadgets and technology advances are now working their way into mainstream AIM business?

• Digital Audio~ AIM-Chicago has installed professional recording studio digital capture systems in all of our rooms. Not only are these digital audio recorders professional grade, but we have also state of the art microphones to capture the digital experience.

• Drop Box~ AIM-Chicago is able to easily send and receive large files (up to 1G) through our drop box system. This system is much easier than the old FTP configurations. If you are receiving a large file from us, you just click on the link in your e-mail and you are instructed in how to download your file. If you are familiar with outlook, you save the download the same way.

• Ripping~ AIM-Chicago is now able to offer you your DVD’s in MP4 as a ripped output playable on your I phone or I touch. Within 48 hours of your group, we are able to provide you with an MP4 of your group right to your e-mail.

• E-Check~ We are now able to accept your check over the phone (no additional charge)! No need to pay Federal Express to send that last minute co-op advance. Just call us with the check #, account # and routing number and we can process the check over the phone for your and e-mail you a receipt. This also eliminates the Chicago postal system from the equation. No more 3 months for them to delivery your check.

• RGB & HDMI~ Have a website, a presentation or even a video you want the group to see, but its on your computer? No worries, our LCD TV’s have HDMI and RGB hook ups and cords.

• AIM Video Stream~ Viewers can instantly “edit” video highlights from a live stream by exporting video segments to be imported into Power Point etc. All streams are available for 30 days.

What other gadgets are in the works? Well, we won’t have an I phone app, one of those in the family is enough. ( or the Redfin App on I tunes) We are in the process of installing a state of the art digital video recording system and digital backup system across the AIM Research Network as well as new on demand video streaming system. Our video streaming and on demand video will allow you to access your video and download it straight to your computer.

And, I am sure I will find something else new to try as soon as those are up and running. Maybe another massage chair or a digital bread maker?  Or my newest craze.... the e-reader.  Do I hold out for the I Pad, jump in with the Nook or Kindle DX?  Any thoughts on the matter would be appreciated.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Welcome to 2010!

Greetings from Schaumburg! We hope that you had a relaxing and fun holiday and New Years. With January upon us, and me finished with all my AIM, Vanderbilt and WCIC end of year wrap-ups, I wanted to look ahead.

What will 2010 bring us? As a recovering economics major, I tend to read a lot of economic forecasts and, to be honest, everyone one has their own opinion. Here are what I have found to be the similarities:

• The Fed will keep the Fed Funds rate low through the first few quarters of 2010

• The rate of job loss will decline and unemployment will cap at about 9.6-10% nationally

• Our GDP is expected to rise anywhere from 1-3% in 2010

Really, this is all great for the markets, but what about everyday consumers, small businesses and corporations? The reality is, we still have a long road ahead of us. Even though there is some growth, the push of funds into the market has not stimulated the economy as much as one would have forecast. Especially given the same push in the 80’s brought a swift decrease to unemployment. Many economists think this is partly due to consumer perception. Are consumers “holding on to what they have” for fear that the recession may hit again?

Here is what we found out from our after-Christmas Holiday online survey of 2500 respondents across the country:

o Of consumers polled, 76% believe that 2010 will be better than 2009

o 71% said they stuck to a gift-buying budget this year

o 48% spent less this year on gifts, versus 2008, while 22% spent the same amount

o 51% are using coupons, this year

o 68% are eating dinner at home more this year than last year

o 15% are insecure about their current job security.

o 34% are saving more and spending less

o 14% added an additional part-time job to make ends meet.

o 42% are purchasing “store” brands

So, even though it looks like many consumers tightened their belts in 2009, the majority believe 2010 will be better (26% believe it will be A LOT better)!

Below are some comments and slides from our survey.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Really, another algorithm? Is this the new fad in research?

We are all abuzz with algorithms, to identify everything from the texting soccer mom* to the pizza zealot*…

One thing I have noticed recently is that not every algorithm gives you the person you think you should get.

Does this mean the clients have not tested their algorithms? Not necessarily. But I wonder; have they tested across multiple markets…with the same results?

Let’s use the texting soccer mom* life stage, for example. The definition/story that goes along with this segment is:

  • a woman
  • has 2 or more children age 7-14
  • texts, on average, 120 messages a month or more, and
  • her children are in at least 2 extracurricular activities each.

First, imagine we are conducting the study in Dallas, Chicago and Los Angeles...Now, imagine you have pulled your database query and are only calling mothers with 2 or more children age 7-14.

You call each women and ask the screener questions:

  1. What are the ages and genders of your children
  2. What extra curricular activities do these children participate in?
  3. Do you currently own and use a cellular phone with texting capabilities?
  4. In an average week, how many text messages would you say you personally send?
  5. In an average week, how many text messages would you say you personally receive?

From their screener answers, each woman qualifies as what we would think a “texting soccer mom” should be.

  • has 2 or more children age 7-14
  • texts, on average, 120 messages a month or more,
  • her children are in at least 2 extracurricular activities each.

So now we ask the algorithm questions.

  • 20 questions.
  • For each question, we need a number from 1-5
  • All answers are plugged into the excel sheet

Lets first look at Samantha in Chicago-

We call Samantha at 11:00 am. She is home writing out her grocery list and has time to talk to us.

  • We plug the algorithm numbers into the excel sheet and…uh oh----the algorithm declares she’s not a texting soccer mom; she is a Collaborative Planner*...( a 20-29 year old female with no kids that uses social networking on her cell phone to plan her weekends)

Now let’s move to Susan in Dallas

We call Susan at 4pm. She is on her cell phone, driving home after dropping one child off at karate and one at ballet , but will take to us.

  • she is a soccer mom both on the screener and algorithm!

But, not so fast. We decide to call Karen in LA at 9:30 am.

Karen is sitting in the doctor’s office, waiting for an appointment, but figured, why not talk till they call her in…

  • The algorithm calls her a Gamer* (a male age 18-29 that uses their cell phone for listening to music and playing games)

Does this mean the algorithm is flawed? Not necessarily? Time of day, city, attitude, and activities that they are doing at the time influence how someone answers a question. Also, respondents are now being asked to stay on the phone with a recruiter for upwards of 20-30 minutes and are overwhelmed with the questions.

Have you ever tried to take an algorithm supplied by a client, yourself? I have, and I try to take each one at least 3 times.

Here are some of the common times I try to hit:

  • Sitting at my desk right when it comes in
  • Sitting in traffic on the way too an appointment (my staff loves trying to get me to answer questions as I am swearing at the other driver who just cut me off)
  • Right in the middle of preparing dinner.
  • During my lunch break as I am “surfing the web”
  • At night with the family just watching TV

And guess what...65% of the time I will get different segments. I have not changed who I am. However, I may have changed a rating based on “the place my head is at,” either 1 number up or down on 1 or 2 questions and…a brand new segment!

Does this mean we should throw the baby out with the bath water? No, I think we need to use a hybrid, to double check.

  • Respondents are asked to choose the story that they believe best describes them.
  • We ask an abbreviated algorithm of no more than 5-10 questions. (only the ones that pertain to their “story”, to get the “predictability” of being this segment)
  • As a homework assignment, have the respondents take the entire algorithm (as a word document or on-line).

The reasoning….

When the algorithms are written, each segment is given a “story”. Why not allow the respondents to hear a watered down version of the “story” and choose which one best describes them? This would give everyone a look, at first, what segment they believe best describes them, and then what the outcome of the algorithm is. When all of this is combined with ownership, demographics and a few pertinent questions, respondents will more closely match what clients expect in their groups and recruiting facilities will be able to provide the correct respondents for their client.

We recently tried this for one client, with interesting results.

Respondents that did not match their segment story and algorithm, at initial screen, were sent a homework assignment. The assignment was to complete the same algorithm questionnaire we performed with them over the phone, as a take-home questionnaire (not an excel sheet just a word document). They were asked to find a quiet time and spend about 10-15 minutes answering the questions and bring them back. Guess what happened? 75% of them came out with the segment matching the “story” they chose.

Can we extrapolate anything from this? Unfortunately not.

  • We do not know if reading the questions, for themselves, and seeing the scale on paper resulted in a more accurate algorithm.
  • We do not know if they answered differently because they were in a calm, quiet place.
  • We don’t even know if because they had “chosen a story” they then chose the answers they felt went more closely with that story.

What I can tell you is the respondents in the group were just what the client expected.

So here are my two cents; try the hybrid approach on your next project. As a short algorithm and then let them choose the “story” that best defines them. Have the field service screen and hold anyone who does not match segment, via algorithm and story. Really take a look at the holds. Not just the segments, but the answer for each question in the algorithm. You might be surprised. There may be some great respondents that could have been having a bad day and answered one or two of your algorithm questions “just one or two” numbers off that threw them out of contention.

If you understand how your algorithm works and the weights given to each answer for each segment, this will be an easy fix. You will be able to identify where someone that self-selects the “story” falls short on the algorithm.

We also need to shorten the screener/algorithm. Not only does the fatigue lead to “not paying attention” to the questions anymore, but it has led to lower respondent cooperation rates. Taking respondents through long algorithms and then having them “not qualify” for the segment you need, has resulted in more respondents terminating phone calls and asking out of databases.

I would love to hear your thoughts on how algorithms are taking over and what you would do to lessen respondent fatigue and decreased incidence of respondents qualifying for a segment they “really should” qualify.

* All segments and segment “stories” are fictitious.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Do you know how your job is being recruited?

In this economy, where price is king, is the notion “You get what you pay for?” even more accurate?

We all know that sometimes you need to advertise for low incidence respondents. This can truly be done in a blind manner without jeopardizing the integrity of the research. An advertisement asking people to call in if they have one of 5 or 6 health conditions, when you are only looking for one of those listed is a great way to advertise. Especially when even if they have the condition, they need to use certain products. But asking for Allergy sufferers who use Allegra, is just asking for trouble.

Credibility and you get what you pay for comes into play when recruiting companies lead their respondents on how to answer questions OR place all the correct answers on-line or in a advertisement. This leads to unintentionally (or intentionally) creating professional respondents. Doing so may allow the company to complete a recruit at a lower cost, but at what cost to the project? My question for you is “Does the low cost justify the means? And are you getting tainted results?”

As someone who believes that, I would rather give a client a spreadsheet full of holds that truly reflect the screening criteria, versus “fitting someone in”, it astonished me what some people will do to get a recruit done. While we use social networking and mass e-mails to help with low incidence recruits, I for one believe that they should only be used when you are able to do so in a blind or indirect manner.

Take for instance a Craig’s List Ad that ran this month in Chicago. It was up for probably 2 days before someone realized “This is probably not a good idea.”

Imagine, all the firms that bid this project as a true recruit from database or POLK list at reasonable pricing and were astonished to see how the selected company (most likely chosen on price) went about recruiting for the project.

So, as you look at your RFQ’s and your estimates, all I ask is you remember one thing….You get what you pay for.

See the Craig's list ad below that really made my hair stand on end!  (to enlarge photos, just click on them to read)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Ramblings on Jury Studies

For many jury studies, the goal it to replicate the jury pool.
What does that mean to someone who is recruiting for the mock jury? We have to meet demographic targets and find willing consumers to spend 8 hours of their time with us.

In my opinion, using RDD to complete a jury recruit is not the best alternative. We tend to use the list assisted method.

RDD has some inherent issues
  • Time and money needed to dial “just to find working phone numbers”
  • Residential numbers vs. Business numbers
  • Is there an eligible person at the number
  • Inability to target age and racial/ethnic sub groups and other key demographics

List assisted allows greater flexibility

  • Listed phone numbers are used
  • Phone numbers have been matched by list company to outside sources to estimate key demographic characteristics
  • Those on the Do Not Call list can be eliminated if so desired
  • Sometimes referred to as “cold call”
  • "Virgin” Respondents
  • A better ability to match PRE SELECTED demographic requirements
  • A higher “hit rate” of live bodies
  • The ability to send a “pre call” announcement via mail.

What are your thoughts on recruiting for jury research?