In a recent Gallup poll, only 35% of Americans said they are better off now than they were a year ago, while 50% said they were worse off financially. In the nearly fifty years this annual poll has been conducted, the only other times such a large percentage of Americans felt worse off were in 2008 and 2009, during the Great Recession. That doesn’t bode well for the future.
While lower income Americans were most likely to say that they were worse off, more households with incomes over $100,000 a year said they were worse off than better off, an indicator that the problems facing the economy are having effects on Americans of all different financial backgrounds.
Despite the pessimism about the present, 60% of respondents expected to be better off next year. That isn’t necessarily cause for optimism, however. After all, in the 2022 poll 60% expected to be better off a year from then, versus 27% who expected themselves to be worse off. Those hopes obviously didn’t come to fruition, so why expect them to come to fruition now?
Many of us as human beings are naturally given to optimism about the future. We hope the best for ourselves and for our families, and that hope gives us motivation to keep going. After all, if you knew that the next few years were going to be filled with pain and misery, you might be tempted to give up, right?
Perhaps it’s time for Americans to be a little more realistic about the future of the economy. With inflation remaining high, savings rates plummeting, and households more indebted than ever, it’s hard to see what’s so rosy about the future.
If you’re one of the 60% of Americans who expects to be better off in the future, hopefully it’s because you’ve prepared financially. And if you haven’t prepared financially to try to protect yourself against what’s coming, maybe it’s time to start, before it’s too late.