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Satisfaction Among Americans Remains at Nine-Year Low

Satisfaction Among Americans Remains at Nine-Year Low

Story Highlights

  • 13% of Americans are satisfied with how things are going in the U.S.
  • 35% cite the coronavirus as the country's most important problem
  • Gallup's Economic Confidence Index remains low at -16

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans' satisfaction with the way things are going in the U.S. remains at the nine-year low recorded in July, with 13% feeling satisfied. This reading comes as the country continues to reel from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Line graph. Americans satisfaction with the way things are going in the U.S. Thirteen percent of Americans in August are satisfied with the way things are going in the U.S., unchanged from the 13% who said the same in July.

Americans' satisfaction with the way things are going in the U.S. has fluctuated greatly this year. In February, with the economy still strong and President Donald Trump acquitted on impeachment charges, Americans' satisfaction with how things were going in the country was relatively high at 45% -- a level not seen since 2005. However, as the COVID-19 pandemic struck, with its associated precipitous decline of economic and in-person social activity, there was a stark deterioration of satisfaction among Americans.

Most Important Problem Facing the U.S.

While the pandemic has remained the most important problem for Americans since April, the current 35% mentioning it represents an uptick from the previous two months. Twenty-two percent mention the government, similar to the level of mentions since April. Relatively few Americans, 12%, say any economic troubles, including the economy in general terms, unemployment or economic inequality, are the most important problem facing the country.

Recent Trend in Americans' View of Most Important Problem in the U.S., 2020
What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today?
May 28-Jun 4 Jul 1-23 Jul 30-Aug 12
% % %
Economy in general 8 4 7
Unemployment/Jobs 5 2 3
Gap between rich and poor 3 1 1
Corporate corruption * * 1
Coronavirus/Diseases 20 30 35
The government/Poor leadership 21 23 22
Race relations/Racism 19 16 10
Unifying the country 4 6 4
Crime/Violence 3 5 4
Ethics/Moral decline; Dishonesty; Lack of integrity 3 2 3
Healthcare 3 2 3
Judicial system/Courts/Laws 2 3 3
Immigration 2 1 2
Lack of respect for each other 4 2 2
The media 2 2 2
Police brutality 2 * 1
Education 1 1 1
Elections/Election reform 1 1 1
Poverty/Hunger/Homelessness 1 1 1
Welfare * * 1
Environment/Pollution/Climate change 2 1 1
Other noneconomic 4 4 2
No opinion 2 2 1
Shown are responses with at least 1% mentions in the July 30-Aug. 12 survey

Race relations, which in June reached a generational high of 19% mentions in the wake of the George Floyd killing, declined to 10%, the lowest since this summer's protests and national focus on racial justice began.

Economic Confidence Remains Sluggish in August

Gallup's Economic Confidence Index is at -16 this month, essentially the same as the -15 reading from July. It remains well below the +41 recorded in February, the highest Gallup has measured in nearly two decades. However, the current reading is improved from the recent low of -33 in April.

Line graph. Gallup's Economic Confidence Index for 2020, year to date. The index currently stands at -16, little changed from -15 last month, and down from a two-decade high of +41 in February.

Gallup's Economic Confidence Index summarizes Americans' responses to two items: their assessments of current economic conditions and their perceptions of whether the economy is getting better or worse. It has a theoretical range from -100 to +100.

Currently, 28% describe current economic conditions as excellent or good, 41% say they are "only fair" and 30% poor. Thirty-two percent believe the economy is getting better and 61% say it is getting worse.

Bottom Line

The challenges currently facing the U.S. are numerous and multifaceted -- from the impacts of the pandemic to economic deterioration, and from political paralysis on Capitol Hill to a focus on racial justice, albeit waning. In every direction one looks, the U.S. is facing unique and historic challenges. In terms of the most important, the pandemic continues to be the most top-of-mind for Americans, but the impact of those varied challenges is perhaps best reflected in the persistence of a nine-year low in overall national satisfaction.

View complete question responses and trends (PDF download).

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.

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