Americans are reporting being the least happy in 50 years, an all time low, according to a poll published Tuesday.
The COVID Response Tracking Study, conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago, found that just 14 percent of American adults say they are “very happy,” down from 31 percent in 2018. The same year, 23 percent said they had often felt isolated, in 2020 that figure has jumped to 50 percent.
The survey, conducted in late May, draws on nearly a half-century of research from the General Social Survey, which has collected data on American attitudes and behaviors at least every other year since 1972. No less than 29 percent of Americans have ever called themselves very happy in that survey.
Most of the new survey’s interviews were completed before the death of George Floyd touched off nationwide protests and a global conversation about race and police brutality, adding to the feelings of stress and loneliness Americans were already facing from the coronavirus outbreak - especially for black Americans.
The significant jump in those reported feeling isolated and loneliness was not surprising, Louise Hawkley, a senior research scientist with NORC at the University of Chicago said. What was surprising for the researchers was that the number was not even higher.
“It isn’t as high as it could be," she said. “People have figured out a way to connect with others. It’s not satisfactory, but people are managing to some extent.”
The new poll found that there haven't been significant changes in Americans’ assessment of their families' finances since 2018 and that Americans' satisfaction with their families’ ability to get along financially was as high as it's been over nearly five decades.
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