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The Pulse: Going Back to Work

The Pulse of the American Consumer is focused on continued insight into consumer sentiments for businesses across all industries.


Consumers are both excited and anxious about different elements of returning to work. Learn how they are feeling about getting back into the office as well as what obstacles and stressors they foresee. In order for businesses to have the most success connecting with their consumers, they have to understand them – what they are interested in, what they need, and how they feel. At ENGINE, we have the real-time pulse of the consumer, today, and always. Throughout 2021, we will be offering weekly insights through identifying important data points and trends from the voice of the consumer.


KEY FINDINGS AS OF May 16, 2021:

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If you would like more information on ENGINE CARAVAN surveys, contact us below:

At ENGINE, we will be keeping up with the pulse of the consumer throughout 2021, and are regularly running our CARAVAN surveys on current social issues. Contact us at caravaninfo@enginegroup.com for more information or for the full CARAVAN survey findings.

This Online CARAVAN® omnibus surveys were conducted on January 8-10, January 15-17, January 22-24, January 29-31, February 5-7, February 12-14,  February 19-21, February 26-28, March 5-7, March 12-14, March 19-21, March 26-28, April 2-4, April 9-11, April 16-18, April 23-25, April 30-May 2, May 7-9, and May 14-16, 2021.  Approximately 1,000 adults selected from opt-in panels were surveyed. The results are also weighted to U.S. Census data to be demographically representative.

Written by the CARAVAN team at ENGINE Insights.

The Pulse of the American Consumer

Current Events:

How concerned are you currently about these issues?

  • Rising prices of consumer goods/inflation
    • Total Concerned: 89%
    • Very Concerned: 52%
      • [95% among Boomers, 88% among Gen X and Millennials, and 75% among Gen Z]
  • The continuing impact of disinformation on society
    • Total Concerned: 86%
      • [Represents a new yearly high]
    • Very Concerned: 54%
  • Increased gasoline prices
    • Total Concerned: 84%
    • Very Concerned: 52%
  • Future ransomware attacks on critical U.S. infrastructure/utilities, (e.g. Colonial Pipeline)
    • Total Concerned: 84%
    • Very Concerned: 47%
  • Increased conflict among Israelis and Palestinians this week
    • Total Concerned: 77%
    • Very Concerned: 40%
  • Contracting the Coronavirus
    • Total Concerned: 53% (new yearly low)
      • [69% among Gen Z, 60% among Millennials, 51% among Gen X, and 46% among Boomers]
    • Very Concerned: 25%

To what extent do you agree or disagree with each statement related to these topics?

  • Improving/updating infrastructure is crucial to the future of the U.S., and corporate taxes should be increased to help fund it
    • Strongly/Somewhat Agree: 73%
      • [85% of Democrats vs. 62% of Republicans]
    • Strongly Agree: 34%
  • Congress did the right thing to establish a bipartisan commission to formally investigate the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol
    • Strongly/Somewhat Agree: 72%
      • [88% among Democrats, 56% among Republicans]
    • Strongly Agree: 36%
  • Once you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, there should no longer be a need to wear a mask/face covering in an outdoors setting
    • Strongly/Somewhat Agree: 72% (+7% change since last week)
      • [50% among Gen Z, 66% among Millennials, 75% among Gen X, and 82% among Boomers]
    • Strongly Agree: 41%
  • Once you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, there should no longer be a need to wear a mask/face covering in an indoors setting
    • Strongly/Somewhat Agree: 62% (+6% change since last week)
      • [50% among Gen Z, 64% among Millennials, 62% among Gen X and Boomers]
    • Strongly Agree: 32%
  • The Republican Party should move on from Donald Trump and the general mindset of ‘Trumpism’
    • Strongly/Somewhat Agree: 65%
      • [88% among Democrats, 39% among Republicans]
    • Strongly Agree: 41%
  • I am still nervous to get back out into the public and resume ‘normal life’, despite more and more cities and states fully reopening businesses
    • Strongly/Somewhat Agree: 56%
      • [65% among Gen Z, 58% among Millennials, 50% among Gen X, and 56% among Boomers]
    • Strongly Agree: 18%
  • Liz Cheney better represents the values of the Republican Party, not Donald Trump
    • Strongly/Somewhat Agree: 54%
      • [76% among Democrats, 31% among Republicans]
    • Strongly Agree: 24%
  • I would consider voting for Donald Trump in 2024, should he run for President again
    • Strongly/Somewhat Agree: 46%
      • [17% among Democrats, 79% among Republicans]
    • Strongly Agree: 29%


The Presidency

How much do you approve or disapprove of the job President Biden is doing?

From U.S. Adults:

  • 51% Approve (Down from 57% on April 2-4)
  • 15% Neither approve nor disapprove
  • 33% Disapprove
  • +18% Net approval rating
    • [+86% among Democrats, -49% among Republicans]

From Registered Voters

  • 53% Approve (Down from 60% on April 2-4)
  • 13% Neither approve nor disapprove
  • 35% Disapprove
  • +18% Net approval rating
    • [+87% among Democrats, -52% among Republicans]

A Look at Consumer Confidence

ENGINE Insights developed a proprietary ‘Consumer Confidence Index’ with the benchmark wave collected March 19-21, following passage of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. To date, our index has produced a high-water mark of 106, during the period of April 2-4, with the most recent index being the lowest at 100.

  • 78% Using our most current index, it becomes apparent that vaccine recipients/planned recipients (78% of the adult population) are much more optimistic than their non-vaccine counterparts (22%), on each of these measures:
    • Overall Consumer Confidence
      • 105 Vaccine/planned
      • 83 Non-vaccine
    • Current conditions
      • 110 Vaccine/planned
      • 95 Non-vaccine
    • Future expectations
      • 102 Vaccine/planned
      • 76 Non-vaccine

Back to Work

Results are among those who are not already in the office and are planning to work in an office-setting as pandemic restrictions are lifted. Data was gathered between May 12-16th, 2021.

  • What are you most excited about when returning to the office?
    • 37% Getting out of the house
    • 30% Seeing my co-workers
    • 27% Separating work life from home life
    • 23% Resuming the daily routine I was used to
    • 19% Being more productive in the office
    • 18% Working more collaboratively
  • What are you most anxious about when returning to the office?
    • 30% My daily commute
    • 28% Less flexibility for family time/obligations
    • 27% Contracting coronavirus
    • 24% Not enough social distancing
    • 23% Cleanliness and sanitation in the office
    • 23% Relying on others to wear a mask/wash their hands
  • What safety measures do you think need to be in place for you to feel comfortable in the office?
    • 50% Hand sanitizer stations throughout the office
    • 47% Requiring co-workers to stay home when not feeling well or showing any potential symptoms of coronavirus
    • 44% Frequent cleaning of common areas (such as kitchens, cafeterias, bathrooms, meeting rooms, etc.)
    • 43% Having a cleaning crew to sanitize office spaces daily
    • 43% Mandatory mask mandate
    • 39% Seating arrangements that require workers to be at least 6 feet apart
    • 37% Mandatory vaccinations
    • 36% Daily temperature checks


Dig deeper with the ENGINE Insights COVID Dashboard

The ENGINE COVID-19 dashboard delivers an easy-to-use, self-serve platform providing access to all of our COVID-19 tracking data including industry specific deep-dives and online behavioral data. This tool puts ENGINE’s data in your hands to uncover meaningful insights to your specific business questions.