Are Americans Unhappy?

“The economic fallout from the pandemic and attendant shutdowns and disruptions has widened a divide between low-wage workers — who have been forced to keep working in person, leaving them vulnerable to the virus and financial troubles — and high-wage workers. Behind all of this, climate change has caused more flooding in Gulf Coast states, wildfires in the West and other problems worldwide. Now, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine feels even more destabilizing.

So given all of this, how are Americans doing?

The answer is, surprisingly, kind of OK. People in general are resilient and optimistic and can find ways to thrive even in the worst of times. But that doesn’t mean that Americans are optimistic about the direction of the country. This was hinted at in a January Gallup poll in which a full 85 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with their own lives, while only 17 percent were satisfied with the direction of the country. That disconnect, though, isn’t unusual. Since Gallup began asking that question in the 1980s, the share of Americans who say they’re “somewhat” or “very” satisfied with their personal lives has been fairly stable, ranging anywhere from 73 percent to 90 percent, while satisfaction in the direction of the country has generally been lower and less stable.”

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