LONGMEADOW, Mass. (WWLP) - This 4th of July weekend, Americans continue to celebrate our independence, and the fundamental ideas on which our country was built. One of those, the American dream. 22News asked western Mass. people whether our economy today gives Americans a chance to get to the top.
It's an idea that has long drawn people from around the world to our country: The American Dream. A sentiment of if you work hard, you can go from having nothing to enjoying a life of success and prosperity.
"I know some people who have started their own business and done very well at it," said Teresa Potito from Longmeadow.
But as the economy slowly recovers from a financial crisis, the housing collapse, and record unemployment - is the American dream more of a pipe dream?
"Nowadays, it really depends on where you grow up. I work a minimum wage job and it's not easy. I started from the bottom and I'm still at the bottom. I hope to one day live that dream and get a college degree and be able to succeed in life," said Nicholas Rodriguez from Springfield.
Pew researchers looked at people who grew up in the bottom fifth of the income ladder, and found just 4% of those people would make it to the top fifth as adults. One man told 22News it's not all hard work, it takes some luck to get to the top too.
"Who you know sort of puts it out there as an opportunity and a door opener. But you sort of have to get through the door and you have to do the work. You can set up the pieces but you really have to move yourself," said Bill Firestone from Longmeadow.
One of the biggest challenges for many Americans is covering the essentials plus putting away money to save - and that's key to financial stability. Western Mass. people told 22News the American Dream is still possible, but it's the path there that may be different.