Record share of Americans say they’re ‘suffering’ amid inflation, political division, survey says

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Record share of Americans say they're 'suffering' amid inflation, political division, survey says

Gallup’s survey on Monday noted that the decline in “thriving” Americans and increase in “suffering” Americans came after the Supreme Court decided in late June to overturn the landmark Roe vs. Wade decision, which legalized abortion nationwide. File Photo by Jemal Countess/UPI | License Photo

The number of Americans who say they are “thriving” in the present climate has declined and the share of those who are “suffering” is higher than it’s been in almost 15 years, according to a Gallup survey Monday.

Gallup polled more than 3,600 U.S. adults for its Life Evaluation Index, which asks respondents to rate their present living situation and anticipate their future situation.

According to the data, 5.6% of respondents rated their lives at the “suffering” level – the highest mark in the category since Gallup began the Life Evaluation Index in 2008.

“This exceeds the previous high of 4.8% measured in April and is statistically higher than all prior estimates in the COVID-19 era,” Gallup said in a statement. “Across extensive measurement since January 2008, the suffering percentage has reached 4.5% or higher on a handful of occasions.”

For the index, respondents are asked to rate their current and future lives on a scale between 0 and 10 based on the Cantril Self-Anchoring Striving Scale. The answers then fall into one of three categories — thriving, struggling and suffering. Any number between 0 and 4 lands in the suffering category.

“Suffering rates have notably climbed in recent months for Democrats, Republicans and independents alike.” Gallup added. “The proportion who are suffering has doubled among Republicans, to 5.4%. Among Democrats, it has also jumped to 5.4% — nearly double the 2.9% from a year ago. And independents were near 5% suffering before a significant increase to 7.3% in April 2022, which eased only slightly to 6.2% in July.”

Gallup said that just over 51% of respondents said they are thriving, an 18-month low. The record high for thriving Americans, according to the index, was almost 60% that was recorded in June 2021.

Record share of Americans say they're 'suffering' amid inflation, political division, survey says

Gallup’s index said that the share of respondents who experience regular stress or worry is up several points compared to a year ago. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

Dating back to the first index in 2008, Gallup corresponds some of the ratings to various occurrences. For example, a “thriving” low of 46.2% was recorded in November 2008 when the Dow Jones Industrial Average reached its lowest point of the financial crisis. It dropped to the same mark in April 2020 when unemployment claims surpassed 30 million early during the COVID-19 crisis.

The most recent data were collected from July 26 to Aug. 2, just weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down its landmark abortion ruling in Roe vs. Wade. The decision has led to widespread criticism and concern for women’s reproductive health and bodily autonomy.

“Since reaching a record high in June 2021, life ratings among American adults have steadily worsened,” Gallup noted. “The 5.6% suffering rate in July marks the first time the Gallup measure has exceeded 5% in the U.S. and translates to an estimated 14 million American adults.

“Economic conditions are likely a major contributing factor to these worsening scores. Despite the addition of 528,000 new jobs in July, persistently high inflation is creating a drag.”

“Dovetailing with economic headwinds is a rising discontentment with U.S. moral values, which has reached a record high,” it added, “with 50% of Americans reporting the state of moral values is ‘poor’ and 37% ‘only fair,’ a sentiment that could be negatively influencing life ratings generally.”

Gallup also said that it’s tracked how many respondents have experienced worry and stress recently.

Those who say they feel stress ticked up in July to 48% — up from 43% a year ago. Daily worry was at 42% in July — up from 38% 12 months ago, but down from 59% in March 2020 when COVID-19 arrived.

Gallup said it polled about 3,600 U.S. adults over the age of 18 in all 50 states. The margin of error was 2 points for percentages around 50% and about 1.2 points for percentages near 10% or 90%, the pollster said.

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