How Car Ownership Improves Employment Outcomes

Capital One survey finds 84% of lower-middle income, non-car owners turned down a job opportunity due to lack of car ownership

As part of the 2022 Car Buying Outlook, Capital One conducted an anonymous self-reported survey of  2,200 car buyers to better understand the role of car ownership within the context of socioeconomic mobility in the United States, particularly as it relates to access to employment opportunities. According to survey results, respondents who had cars were more likely to have greater access to job opportunities, while also feeling an increased sense of financial security and wellbeing, than non-car owners. Nearly three-in-four (70%) respondents said their vehicle gives them a sense of financial stability, and 67% said it opened up income opportunities that they would not have had without a car.

"This data reinforces how incredibly important and enriching car ownership can be in people's lives," said Sanjiv Yajnik, President of Financial Services at Capital One. "Through this research, we can better understand the impact of car ownership in offering more opportunities for human connection, economic well-being and stability. Increasing access to cars can enable social mobility and opens the door for more to pursue their dreams."

In light of COVID-19, nearly half (42%) of respondents reported they have already or plan to move away from a city, therefore having an increased need for a car. Suburban areas generally have far less infrastructure for public transit. Nearly half of Americans have no access to public transportation and where public transportation exists, rail systems tend to be limited to America’s largest cities. The 2022 Car Buying Outlook found many car buyers report public transit actually lengthens their commutes or time it takes to get things done. 

“As leading companies in the finance industry evaluate a market or an economic activity, it is crucial that we broaden our perspectives and identify solutions that can expand opportunity and prosperity for an inclusive set of communities,” said Kara Gustafson, Executive Director of the Finance Leaders Fellowship, The Aspen Institute.

All data from this report is self-reported from anonymous respondents across the U.S. Survey respondents included may or may not have relationships with any number of financial institutions and/or products. 


The Capital One Car Buying Outlook consists of findings from two surveys targeted to consumers and dealers. The results captured in the present report only reflect the consumer data set of the broader Capital One Car Buying Outlook. Survey data is comprised of U.S. respondents overall, not specifically from or about Capital One customers or employees.

The consumer survey of 2,200 U.S. adults ages 18+ was conducted on behalf of Capital One Auto Finance by Morning Consult. Of the 2,200 respondents, 361 report that they do not currently own a car and are considered "non-car owners", 643 have purchased a car in the last six months and are considered “current buyers”, and 1,557 self-reported that they’re planning to purchase a car within the next two years and are considered “future buyers”.  Lower-middle income respondents are classified as those who self-report greater than $25,000 but less than $50,000 annual household income, middle income respondents report greater than $50,000 but less than $100,000, and high income respondents report greater than $100,000 annual household income. The survey was fielded October 20-29, 2021 with a margin of error of +/- 2%.

The dealer survey of 530 current car dealers was conducted on behalf of Capital One Auto Finance through Morning Consult. The 530 respondents work for an automobile dealership as an owner, general manager, F&I director, sales manager, internet manager, or in the business development center at dealerships with an approximate annual sales volume of at least $1M. The survey was fielded October 20-29, 2021 with the margin of error +/- 4%.

All data in this report is from self-reported, anonymous research of U.S. respondents broadly, not specifically from or about Capital One customers or employees.

Key Findings

  • Two-thirds of respondents (67%) said owning a car opened up income opportunities that they would not have had without a car. One-in-three (34%) respondents reported having to turn down a job opportunity because they did not have access to a car. 58% of respondents agree their car allowed them to find/take on a better/new job.
  • Impacts of not owning a vehicle are felt more strongly among lower-middle income earners, or those with a household income of $50,000 annually or less. 84% of lower-middle income, non-car owners said they had to turn down a job opportunity due to not having access to a vehicle. Those who do not own a car are 90% more likely than car owners to have turned down a job opportunity. Lower-middle income earners are also less likely to say the car buying process has gotten easier, compared to high income earners (24% versus 43%, respectively)

  • Four-in five respondents (80%) agree their car increases access to resources both inside and outside of their communities. 76% of respondents say their cars help them help others. 72% of respondents agree car ownership allows them to spend more with their families.

  • Nearly half of respondents (42%) reported they have already or plan to move away from a city, thereby increasing their need for a car. When looking at generational plans to migrate from cities, the Millennial (born 1981-1996) and GenZ (born 1997-2012) generations were the most likely to report having or planning to move (63% and 57%, respectively). Note: the survey did not ask if these moves were intended to be permanent or a transitory reaction to the pandemic.

  • Four-in-five respondents (82%) said owning a car made them feel more independent and in control. 74% said their car gave them a sense of pride and accomplishment, and 70% of respondents said their vehicle gives them a sense of financial stability. 


About the Capital One Insights Center

The Center combines Capital One research and partnerships to produce insights that advance equity and inclusion. As a nascent platform for data and dialogue, the Center strives to help changemakers create an inclusive society, build thriving communities and develop financial tools that enrich lives. The Center draws on Capital One’s deep market expertise and legacy of revolutionizing the credit system through the application of data, information and technology. 

About Capital One 

Capital One Financial Corporation ( is a financial holding company whose subsidiaries, which include Capital One, N.A., and Capital One Bank (USA), N.A., had $313.4 billion in deposits and $434.2 billion in total assets as of March 31, 2022. Headquartered in McLean, Virginia, Capital One offers a broad spectrum of financial products and services to consumers, small businesses and commercial clients through a variety of channels. Capital One, N.A. has branches located primarily in New York, Louisiana, Texas, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey and the District of Columbia. A Fortune 500 company, Capital One trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "COF" and is included in the S&P 100 index.

About Morning Consult 

Morning Consult is a global decision intelligence company changing how modern leaders make smarter, faster, better decisions. The company pairs its proprietary high-frequency data with applied artificial intelligence to better inform decisions on what people think and how they will act.
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About The Aspen Institute

The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners. For more information, visit