The past decade hasn’t been kind to the image of most industries in the United States. And given the economic and sociopolitical upheavals experienced by nearly every strata of society, it’s not hard to understand why.
This isn’t just conjecture, either. For years, the Gallup polling organization has surveyed Americans’ opinions of 25 major industry sectors every August to determine if their overall opinion of each of them is positive, neutral or negative.
The results of the 2011 survey of 1,008 respondents (age 18 and over) have now been released, and they show that a majority of Americans view just five of the 25 industries in a positive light:
Computer industry: ~72% rate positive
Restaurant industry: ~61%
Farming and agriculture: ~57%
The Internet: ~56%
Grocery industry: ~52%
Interestingly, when comparing these results to ten years ago (August 2001), just two of these five sectors have improved their positive ratings: the Internet and the computer industry.
At the other end of the scale, seven of the 25 industry sectors scored 30% or lower in positive ratings:
Banking industry: ~30% rate positive
Airline industry: ~29%
Legal field: ~29%
Healthcare industry: ~27%
Real estate industry: ~23%
Oil and gas industry: ~20%
Federal government: ~17%
The remaining 13 industries in Gallup’s survey came in between 30% and 50% on the scale – hardly stellar ratings, but not in the basement like the hapless sectors listed above.
Over the past decade, Gallup has observed that a clear majority of the industries – 19 of the 25 – have seen declines in their positive scores.
The most precipitous ones include the usual suspects, led by – you guessed it – the federal government:
Federal government: Down 24 percentage points since 2001
Real estate industry: Down 23 points
Banking: Down 17 points
Educational field: Down 15 points
Accounting industry: Down 11 points
Healthcare industry: Down 10 points
It’s little wonder why we’re seeing these six industries striking out so badly with the American public; they’re precisely the ones associated most with various political or economic problems.
By contrast, the positive views about the computer industry and the Internet reflect the continuing innovation and financial success of many businesses in this sector.
This can’t be lost on consumers – many of whom have directly benefited through the steady stream of new products and services introduced by companies in these sectors over the past decade.
And as for agriculture, groceries and restaurants … well, we all have to eat, no matter what the economic situation! Besides, there’s been little controversy seen in these categories, and they’re mature sectors have been smooth-running in this country for years.
One hopes the next decade will witness a reversal in the downward trajectory of the public’s perceptions of American industries. In at least a few of the cases, it’s hard to imagine how they could sink any lower!