Americans appear to have three goals in 2022, in no particular order: stay healthy, stay politically engaged and avoid returning to the office if they can help it, according to the latest “Relevance Report” released by the USC Annenberg Center for Public Relations.


The annual USC Center report, which asked Americans about the emerging issues and trends that will be most relevant to them in the coming year, found that more than one in five (21 percent) believe COVID will remain the number-one concern in 2022, beating out our current collective fears surrounding climate change (14 percent), abortion rights (11 percent), voting integrity (10 percent), access to affordable healthcare (nine percent), immigration (six percent), gun control (six percent), homelessness (five percent), racial inequality (three percent) and income inequality (three percent).

The concept of self-care appears to have risen to become a top-of-mind concern in the COVID era. Nearly a quarter (22 percent) of Americans polled said they now want to dedicate some time every day to focus on their wellbeing. Work appears to play no small role in Americans’ concepts of wellbeing, particularly the prospect of working at home: 14 percent said they want to find a new job where they can work fewer hours than before or get paid more. Only one percent of respondents said they want to go back to the office full-time, and five percent said they want to go to the office only two or three days a week. Once Americans do return to the office, 17 percent said they’d prefer to wear jeans and a T-shirt.

The USC report also makes it clear that, even with Trump out of office, we continue to live in divisive times. According to the report, a person’s political views constitute the biggest deal-breaker for a friendship or relationship today (14 percent), followed by what candidate a person thinks won the 2020 presidential election (11 percent). Other contentious issues include a person’s stance on abortion rights (eight percent), whether a person has been vaccinated (8 percent), someone’s position on gun control (six percent) or immigration (four percent), whether they support Black Lives Matter (four percent), whether or not they wear a mask (four percent) and their position on climate change (three percent).

Nearly half of respondents said they plan to support companies next year that share their values (40 percent) and nearly a third (31 percent) said they plan to boycott brands that don’t share their values. Nearly the same number (32 percent) said they plan to donate money to a cause or volunteer in their community (31 percent). About a quarter (21 percent) said they plan to post their views on social media, and 12 percent said they plan to participate in a protest.

More than half of Americans polled (56 percent) said they plan to vote in an election next year.

The 2022 edition of the USC Center for PR’s “Relevance Report” surveyed more than 1,100 Americans in October. The survey was conducted via online survey company Survey Monkey.