04/24/2012 11:54 am ET

More Americans Can Afford Food, Medicine: Report

In another sign that the economy is recovering, Americans' access to basic goods and services is improving, according to a new Gallup survey.

The percentage of Americans able to buy food, healthcare, medicines, safe housing or other basic necessities increased to 82.0 percent in March, up from a record low of 81.2 percent last October. While the increase is small, it represents a burgeoning optimism among the tens of thousands of survey respondents asked by Gallup researchers to assess their individual situations.

Americans' also reported increased daily spending in stores, restaurants, gas stations and online, up to an average of $74 per day in March as compared to $63 in February, according to Gallup. Researchers attribute the increased spending to the "best economic confidence in four years, strong job creation, higher gas prices, warmer weather than usual, and a relatively early Easter." (Easter, it turns out, is the third biggest spending holiday in the country, the National Retail Federation told the Wall Street Journal.)

Consumer optimism carried over to other areas as well, with more Americans reporting that they were able to find work, while others generally felt better about their quality of life.