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Gallup: Americans Look into Their Future with Less Satisfaction
Tuesday, November 5, 2013 6:55 AM

Americans' satisfaction with the future facing themselves and their families, as well as their present-day family or household income, has returned to levels seen 50 years ago. Yet their satisfaction with their housing situation has improved, according to the latest Gallup poll.

The 63 percentage of Americans who today are satisfied with the future facing them and their families, based on Sept. 21-24 polling, is just one percentage point lower than Gallup found when it asked the same question for the first time, in July 1963. Americans were most likely to be satisfied (80 percent) near the end of the first Gulf War, in February 1991. Through the rest of the 1990s, Americans' satisfaction remained in the 70 percent range, before falling to 65 percent in 2011 amid a slow recovery from the recession. Gallup did not ask this question in the first decade of the new century.

Americans were feeling least optimistic about the future in the late 1960s and early 1970s, culminating in the September 1973 reading (53 percent satisfied) -- as the U.S. stock market was in the middle of a steep decline, inflation was heating up, and the White House was embroiled in the Watergate scandal. After that low point, satisfaction rose in the late 1970s to levels similar to those seen in 2013.

Americans are as satisfied now with their present family or household income as they were 50 years ago. Today, 62 percent say they are satisfied, and in 1963, 64 percent felt the same way. The current reading marks a decline from the high of 70 percent in 1998, during a strong economy largely fueled by the dot-com boom. Americans were least likely to be satisfied with their household income (58 percent) in December 1984, as the U.S. was entering a great expansion in GDP that would last about 25 years. By 1988, satisfaction with family income had risen to 69 percent.

Unlike their feelings about the future and their household income, Americans' satisfaction with their housing situation is much higher than it was 50 years ago. Currently, 86 percent of Americans are satisfied with their housing, while 72 percent were satisfied in 1963 -- tied for the lowest reading on record. This figure peaked in the winter of 1997, but was only two points higher than it is now, at 88 percent.