The majority of Americans say they're satisfied with their future prospects, but their feelings have dimmed since 1998, when the U.S. economy was stronger, according to a recent Gallup poll about well being.
Overall, only 65 percent of people polled said they were satisfied with the future facing them and their families, an 11 percent drop in the number of people who reported feeling positive about future prospects 13 years ago. This echoes a survey from earlier this fall which reported that American pessimism about the future has hit an all-time high.
It's not just the future that is losing its promise. The dismal economy has continued to take its toll on American families this year. A survey from October reported that more than 20 percent of Americans are having a hard time putting food on the table this year. As of December 2011, the unemployment rate was 8.6 percent.
The gloomiest area of life for half of Americans was financial net worth and savings, according to the recent poll. Overall, only 50 percent of those polled said they were satisfied with how much they had in savings and equity. That is a 6 percent decline in number of people satisfied with net worth from 1998. According to data from the Federal Reserve, the overall value of financial assets held by American households decreased by $2.78 trillion in the third quarter of 2011, Bloomberg reported.
One bright spot in the Gallup poll, which looked at satisfaction with different six aspects of life, was family. The vast majority of Americans -- 90 percent -- reported that they are feeling satisfied with family life, according to the poll. That is only a one percent drop from 1998. However, the poll was conducted between Nov. 28 and Dec. 1, 2011, indicating that the findings could reflect a post-Thanksgiving holiday bump. Other research published this fall showed that parents who have faced financial difficulties and depression are more likely to feel disconnected from their children.
The survey compared current satisfaction levels with those reported in 1998, when the unemployment rate was under 5 percent and the poverty level declined to 12.7 percent. The most recent figures from 2010 show that the nation's poverty rate has risen to 15.1 percent.
The latest Gallup poll was based on phone interviews with 1,012 adults, aged of 18 and older, living in the the United States. The poll asked people to rate their satisfaction on six dimensions of life, including future prospects, household income, financial networth, housing, opportunities for success and family life.