More Americans Are Optimistic About Personal Finances, Gallup Poll Says

February 8, 2020 Updated: February 9, 2020
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Americans’ levels of optimism about their current and future personal financial situation have reached or are near record highs, according to a recent Gallup poll.

Fifty-nine percent, or nearly 6 in 10, Americans say they are financially better off now than they were a year ago, which is an increase from 50 percent last year, according to polling data released Feb. 5. The prior record for the same question was in January 1999, at 58 percent, during the “dot-com” boom, when economic conditions were similar.

Meanwhile, 20 percent of Americans say they are financially worse off now than they were a year ago, with 21 percent saying they are financially the same.

From 1998 to 2000, at least half of Americans rated their personal finances as being better than in the previous year, but that number fell to under 50 percent from 2001 to 2018, with a low of 23 percent in May 2009, during the Great Recession, the pollster noted.

The data also found that Americans have expressed optimism about their future financial situation, with 74 percent of Americans predicting that they will be better off financially a year from now. That’s the highest reading for the question since the question has been asked since 1977, Gallup noted. The highest previous record was in 1998 at 71 percent.

The findings align with many of President Donald Trump’s assertions that Americans are doing better under his presidency, Gallup said. During his State of the Union address on Feb. 4, Trump touted the burgeoning U.S. economy, tax cuts, low unemployment rates for African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Asian Americans, growing wages, and job creation through a focus on manufacturing.

“Three years ago, we launched the great American comeback. Tonight, I stand before you to share the incredible results,” Trump said. “In just three short years, we have shattered the mentality of American decline and we have rejected the downsizing of America’s destiny” and the United States is “moving forward at a pace that was unimaginable just a short time ago, and we are never going back.”

The polling data also found a partisan divide in the way Republicans and Democrats see their financial situations, with 76 percent of Republicans reporting that they are financially better off now than a year ago, while only 43 percent of Democrats reported the same. Meanwhile, 83 percent of Republicans expressed optimism about their future financial situation, compared to 60 percent of Democrats who said the same.

The pollster found that independents fell in between, with 58 percent expressing optimism about their current personal finances, and 76 percent predicting they will be better off next year.

The data came from the recent Mood of the Nation poll, which was conducted by telephone between Jan. 2 and Jan. 15, with a random sample of 1,014 Americans over the age of 18 across the country. The margin of error for the poll is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Jack Phillips contributed to this report.

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