What a difference in optimism three years have produced
Written by Michael Lewis on April 1, 2015
Economic optimism that was squelched by the recession has come roaring back among Miami Today readers, and with good reason: their financial positions have improved markedly.
The average reader’s mean household income has jumped from $219,000 to more than $259,000 since 2012, data from Miami Today’s new readership survey show.
That single statistic sets the table for a string of related findings by Behavioral Science Research in Coral Gables, whose three-part independent study based on four pages of close-packed questions not only confirms broad economic gains by our readers over three years but indicates optimism that in fact surpasses those gains.
Examples of those aspirations are broad. Whereas 4% of our readers in 2012 planned to buy a powerboat within a year and 7% already had powerboats then, today 12% do in fact own powerboats – exceeding earlier buying plans – and 13% now plan to buy one in the year ahead.
Another clear example is commercial real estate. In 2012, some 9% of our readers owned commercial real estate and 6% planned to buy. Today, 14% of our readers report that they own commercial real estate, but a whopping 31% plan to buy commercial real estate in the year ahead.
Talk about rapidly rising expectations.
Look too at plans to buy residential rental properties. In 2012, 7% of our readers had such plans. Today, 31% do. While condos are booming, a large number of our readers see big opportunities in owning rental units, perhaps as badly needed workforce housing.
Real estate expectations go on and on. Some 66% of our readers now report that they own single-family homes, but 31% plan to buy one or more in the coming year, up from a 15% buying expectation in 2012. And while 41% of our readers own condos, 27% plan to buy one or more this year, up from just 10% planning to buy in 2012.
That’s not all they plan in real estate. While in 2012 just 5% planned to buy a vacation residence, today 18% report that aim in the next year.
The optimism runs to smaller possessions as well, the kind nobody has to have but everybody wants. Three years ago 18% of readers said they planned to buy art objects in the year ahead; now it’s 68% planning to buy. Only 8% planned to buy antiques in 2012; today it’s 34%. And while just 15% of our readers in 2012 planned to buy more fine jewelry, today it’s 50%,
There are reasons to believe that a good share of these seemingly grandiose plans should become reality.
The survey shows that 52% of our 68,933 readers today are millionaires, up from 43% just three years ago – more solid evidence of recovery. And at every level they report higher annual household income – 30% now are above $200,000, up from 28% in 2012, and 10% now are above $500,000 a year, up from 8%.
Reported net worth has also jumped, with more than half now reporting $1 million or more, up from 43% in gloomier days in 2012, and 13% worth $5 million or more, up from 6% three years ago.
If the Miami Today audience sounds like a crop of new, richer people, it’s not: the average person surveyed reports having read Miami Today for 10 years or longer. And many of their characteristics have actually changed little since the last survey.
For instance, average readers still spend 22 minutes with each copy of Miami Today and they still have the same opinions of us: 82% continue to rate us as having high or very high quality business and civic news, the same percentage as 2012, and the same percentage as 2012, 83%, rate us at high or very high quality of credibility of business and civic news. And we earned the same percentage, 57%, among all publications for having the best business news in the area.
With lots of similarities to earlier surveys in virtually every category, big changes stand out.
Our ranking jumped for being best in reporting local business trends, rising from 65% in 2012 to 70% today.
While our audience has remained loyal over the years, clearly we did add new readers, tracking changes in our community, demographics show. In the past three years in a majority Hispanic community we’ve gone from 40% Hispanic readers to 48%. Black readership has also gained, from 5% up to 7%.
Beyond demographics, the survey taught us much about what our readers want from us. While they rate us far and away the best in business news, they’re asking for even more business news from us, and we plan to meet their expectations.
One thing we’re happy about: our readers are very serious about serious news. While they are increasingly wedded to digital devices of every form, they continue as a majority of 54% to turn first to the paper editions of print publications for local news. Thankfully, fewer than 4% say they turn most often to Twitter – though 23% do go straight to newspaper web sites like miamitodaynews.com.
When we asked why readers don’t get that news from our digital edition, which is an exact replica of the printed Miami Today, 12% of you made it plain: “nobody asked us.” Consider this the ask: you can sign up at that www.miamitodaynews.com web site.
However you choose to get your news from Miami Today, we’ll be as optimistic as you are about Miami’s future – but we won’t sugarcoat the news, any more than we have for almost 32 years. Stay with us.