We’ve Reached a Crossroad

By  Vrge Strategies, Special for USDR

Americans have a love/fear relationship with technology, appreciating how it has bridged the gap between the rich and poor but many are concerned it will be a job destroyer in the future, according to a new post-election Vrge Analytics survey using Survey Monkey.

Technology’s impact on the economy looms large as American voters are at partisan odds on whether the shift to a global economy is a good or bad thing for the United States. Driven by the white males without a college degree that spurred Donald Trump’s election upset, Republicans are pessimistic about the benefits of globalization. While 76 percent of Democrats call the trend towards a global economy a good thing, only 36 percent of Republicans think so.

“The technology industry faces political challenges in a Trump Administration,” said Scott Gerber, partner and co-founder of Vrge Strategies. “But this survey shows that technology is also seen as the solution to many of America’s problems. It’s vital that the industry look at how it can address the economic concerns that surfaced during the election, while fulfilling a core mission to help to bridge the gap between the rich and the  poor.”

The Vrge Analytics “Tech in the Age of Trump” survey saw challenges ahead for President-elect Trump. For example, a majority of American voters (54 percent) expressed a lack of confidence in his ability when it “comes to making the right decisions about the country’s economic future.” And a nearly identical majority said they lack confidence in his ability to maintain U.S. tech leadership.

And Trump may find many Americans uncertain about one of his signature policy initiatives: immigration. While Trump has vowed to curb illegal immigration and deport millions, Americans didn’t cite that issue as a priority. In fact, it registered no higher than fifth among groups, behind issues such as preventing American companies from moving jobs overseas, promoting technology innovation, lowering corporate tax rates, renegotiating trade deals and removing regulations. The group most likely to prioritize immigration was whites with less than a college education, but only 1 in 6 voters called it a priority.

After eight years of a special relationship with President Obama, the technology industry is at an awkward moment with the Trump presidency. Silicon Valley leaders who nearly universally supported Hillary Clinton must now find a way to engage with the Republican president-elect on key issues.

There is some good news, however, that Silicon Valley can point to. Americans look at technology as helping them live their lives: 63 percent said it makes life better for them and their family, according to the survey of 1,833 respondents conducted November 16-17th.

But ominously, American voters also fear what is coming next: the majority (51 percent) report they expect technology will destroy more jobs than it creates in the next decade. For example, advances in automation and artificial intelligence that are transforming manufacturing and threaten to displace truck and taxi drivers with self-driving vehicles.

Tech’s challenge will be to help find solutions that create jobs, or run the risk of being blamed for the loss of millions of jobs as technology-driven automation changes the economy.

Even so, Americans are often positive on the impact of technology companies:

  • 76 percent say it’s had a positive impact on American society while a whopping 87 percent said tech has been positive for the U.S. economy.
  • 62 percent say it has “leveled the playing field between rich and poor,” and that sentiment is shared evenly by demographic groups, for example those without a college education, who have expressed concerns about globalization’s impact on the economy.
  • Americans (64 percent) expect the next business leader to come from the United States and that technology will set the agenda for the next decade – even if they don’t know what exactly what that technology will be. The number-one answer for what will drive the agenda was “some new device, service or product we don’t know today.”

Key Questions and Results from the Survey:

Q1. Do you think the trend toward a global economy is a good thing or a bad thing for our country?

Good thing

54%

Bad thing

41%

No Answer

5%

Q2. Which of the following do you think is the most important thing government can do to create more jobs for people like you? (Pick 2)

Prevent American companies from moving jobs overseas

58%

Tax credits to encourage technological innovation

27%

Lower corporate taxes

21%

Renegotiate trade deals to limit international trade

18%

Remove regulations

16%

Slow immigration

13%

No Answer

3%

Q3. When you look ahead 10 years, willtechnology…

Make life better for you and your family

63%

Make life worse for you and your family

15%

Make no difference

20%

No Answer

2%

Q4. When you look ahead 10 years, willtechnology…

Create more jobs than it displaces

34%

Take away more jobs than it creates

51%

Make no difference

13%

No Answer

2%

Q5. How much confidence do you have in Donald Trump when it comes to making the right decisions about the country’s economic future?

Great deal

24%

Good amount

21%

Just some

19%

None

35%

No Answer

1%

METHODS — This Vrge Analytics survey was conducted online using SurveyMonkey on November 16-17, 2016 among a national sample of 1,833 adults who say they are registered to vote. Respondents for this survey were selected from the nearly three million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day. The bootstrap confidence interval for this survey is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for registered voters.

About Vrge Strategies

Vrge was founded on the premise that companies and organizations large and small must navigate disruption that is redefining how companies operate, how society views technology and how transformation is reshaping our economy and society. Vrge has senior leaders in San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. In addition, Vrge operates Vrge Analytics, a research and polling firm that provides clients insights into how the public, businesses and policy leaders view the intersection of technology, business and society. Vrge is part of Next Fifteen, a global communications consultancy.

SOURCE Vrge Strategies

All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.
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