Members of the military continue to be held in high esteem by Americans with more than three-fourths of U.S. adults indicating that men and women of the armed forces make significant contributions to the well-being of society.
While members of the military are regarded highly, less than 40 percent of those surveyed feel the same about clergy, and less than one in five people surveyed thought lawyers made contributions to society.
The results are from an opinion survey conducted by the Pew Research Center that looked at public esteem for various professions.
The survey results
The last time Pew asked the public to rate professions in 2009, the military also held the top spot, with 84 percent of those surveyed saying armed forces members contributed “a lot” to society. The 2013 data shows 78 percent of Americans feel that way, again topping a list of 10 occupational groups.
Four out of five women surveyed gave a positive view of the military, as did better than three-fourths of male respondents. Four of five white people spoke favorably of the work of armed forces members, while 72 percent of blacks and Hispanics shared that view.
Teachers, (72 percent), medical doctors (66 percent), scientists (65 percent) and engineers (63 percent) all were considered to be contributors to society, even though the number of people making such assertions declined from 2009 results.
Rounding out the top 10 were clergy (37 percent), artists (30 percent), journalists (28 percent), business executives (24 percent) and attorneys (18 percent).
Results of the survey revealed that 37 percent of Americans think clergy contribute a lot to society, down from 40 percent four years ago. Thirty-six percent of those surveyed said clergy contributed some to society, while 18 percent felt there was no contribution at all.
Adults who attend church on a regular basis were more positive in their views about ministers, priests and other clergy members. Fifty-two percent of those attending church at least weekly indicated clergy contribute to the well-being of society, compared to 29 percent of those who attend services less often. Eleven percent of those surveyed said there was no contribution or very little made by clergy.
White evangelical Protestants (60 percent), white mainline Protestants (65 percent), white Catholics (62 percent) and black Protestants (46 percent) who attend weekly services had a far more favorable view on the clergy’s societal contributions than those who attend less often. Less than 40 percent of the people attending church less than weekly in those same four subgroups showed significant contributions from clergy.
Support lags for journalists
The public view of journalists’ contributions to society also showed a decline since the last survey was taken in 2009. Only 28 percent of respondents perceived a contribution to American society, down from 38 percent four years ago.
That decline was more pronounced among women, dropping from 46 percent in 2009 to 29 percent in 2013. Only 24 percent of those people ages 50 and older indicated there was a positive contribution by journalists, while 32 percent felt the same way in the 18-49 age category.
Only one in five Republicans or Republican-leaning independents viewed a societal contribution by journalists, compared to 36 percent of Democrats or those Democratic-leaning independents.
The report is based on findings from telephone interviews (landline and cell) conducted in the spring among a national sample of 4,006 adults, 18 years of age or older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.