Did you get $2 in the mail from Pew Research Center? Here’s the deal…

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pew research center american trends panel
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Here at Clark.com, we’re really big into the idea of micro-gigs where you can pick up a few dollars here and there for doing different tasks.

For example, we’ve written extensively on Amazon’s vast array of micro-jobs. Did you know you can earn up to $15/hour doing short transcriptions, taking surveys and researching Google search descriptions through Amazon MTurk right from the comfort of your own home?

But recently, a new micro-gig came onto our radar: Being a participant in the Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel.

It’s hard to ignore the two dollar bills that come glued to this letter in your mail — free for the taking!

pew research center american trends pane $2

A look at the Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel

Not familiar with the American Trends Panel? Here’s what you need to know…

Is this legitimate?

Yes, the Pew Research Center is a well-established group with roots that date back to 1990.

It describes itself as a “nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.”

What is the purpose of the survey?

The American Trends Panel features people from all ages, groups and lifestyles, and offers them “the ability to make their voices heard on a range of topics, but in a confidential manner.”

Pew works with a third-party market research company GfK Custom Research LLC to conduct the research.

As a side note, don’t confuse the American Trends Panel (ATP) with the similarly named American Community Survey (ACS). There’s a world of difference between the two.

While the ATP is a Pew project that can earn you some pocket-money for participating, the ACS is official government business, offers no compensation and carries with it stiff penalties if you choose not to answer.

How was I selected for participation?

Per the FAQs, selection is “at random through a scientific process to accurately reflect the national population.”

Are my answers anonymous?

Again, according to the FAQs:

“Your answers will be combined with many others and you will never be identified in our reports. Your personal information will never be sold—all of your answers will be used for research purposes only.”

If you’re overly concerned about privacy, you can prevent any further use of your information by calling GfK at 1-800-405-1201 after you take the survey. The market research firm says it will “then use reasonable efforts to prevent further use of your Personal Information in our files.”

You can view the complete privacy policy here.

How much money will you get for completing a survey?

The most eye-catching part of getting the American Trends Panel introductory letter in the mail is the $2 that’s included in the envelope.

At first glance, you might be tempted to think it’s funny money — after all, when does cash just show up in your mailbox?

But no, this is 100% real legal tender. And the nice thing is you get to keep the $2 regardless of whether you take the survey or not!

If you do choose to take the online survey, which takes about 15 minutes, you’ll be compensated with an additional $10 upon completion — which can either be mailed as a check or in the form of an Amazon gift card.

The American Trends Panel differentiates itself from other public-opinion pools by offering ongoing questionnaire opportunities once you’re registered with them. So there is the possibility of future earnings beyond your initial $12.

After your first survey, any future surveys you choose to take will typically pay $5.

What kinds of questions will I be asked?

Topics range from basic demographic info to questions about political and religious affiliation. There are also questions about hot-button issues such as gun ownership and U.S. citizenship.

You don’t have to answer any questions you don’t want to, and it won’t impact your earnings if you choose to skip questions.

There were roughly 50 questions on the survey when I participated on August 14, 2018 after being randomly selected.

  • Are you 18 years of age or older?
  • How would you described your community: Rural, suburban, urban?
  • Has anyone in your house ever served in the military?
  • Is anyone a member of a labor union?
  • Which social class do you identify as?
  • How likely are you to have to care for an aging family member at some point?
  • How often do you use a computer?
  • Do you have home Internet access?
  • How often do you follow the news?
  • Are you male or female?
  • What is your race or origin?
  • Where were you born?
  • Are you Hispanic?
  • What is your level of education?
  • What is your age?
  • What is your marital status?
  • Are you retired?
  • Are you attending school?
  • Are you employed?
  • Are you a citizen of the United States?
  • What is your voter registration status
  • Did you vote in the 2016 presidential election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton?
  • Did you vote for Trump, Clinton or someone else?
  • What is your present religion, if any?
  • Would you describe yourself as a born-again or evangelical Christian, or not?
  • Aside from weddings and funerals, how often do you attend religious services?
  • How important is religion in your life?
  • Outside of attending religious services, how often do you pray?
  • What was your total family income in 2017 before taxes?
  • Do you own or rent?
  • How long have you lived at your current address?
  • Would you say you follow what’s going on in government and public affairs…
  • As of today, do you lean more Democrat or Republican?
  • How would you describe your political views?
  • Are you disabled?
  • Do you personally own any guns?
  • Does anyone else in your household own any guns?
  • Were both your parent born in the United States, or not?
  • Were all your grandparents born in the United States, or not?
  • How many people live in your household?
  • How many are adults?
  • Are you the parent or guardian of any children under age 18?
  • Are any of those children under 18 now living in your household?
  • Are you the parent or guardian of any adult children age 18 or older, including any who live on their own?

Have you been asked to join the American Trends Panel and did you agree to offer your opinions? Write in to our comments section below and let us know!

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Theo Thimou About the author:
Theo has co-written several books with Clark Howard, including the New York Times #1 bestseller Living Large in Lean Times. As a single widowed parent of two young children, he strives to bring unique savings tips to men and women like him who must face life without their spouses. He can be reached at [email protected]
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