Americans' Perception of Their Standard of Living is Unchanged From a Year Ago


Americans' perception of their standard of living is unchanged from both last month and a year ago, indicating that any optimism from gains in the stock market and U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) has been offset by issues such as unemployment and a stagnant housing market.

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About 50% of Americans earning at least $90,000 a year say their standard of living is improving, while 45% of those with lower incomes say the same, Gallup said Friday, citing its poll of about 30,000 adults last month. Both percentages are about the same as in September and in October 2009.

Despite assurances from economists that the recession ended more than a year ago, the results show a lack of optimism among many consumers. About three out of four Americans say the U.S. is still in a recession, with Republicans and women slightly more pessimistic about the U.S. economy than Democrats and men, according to an AOL/Poll Position survey taken last month.

While U.S. GDP grew 2% during the third quarter and consumer spending increased at its fastest pace in almost four years, the unemployment rate, which remained at 9.6%, has been at least 9.5% for 14 months, the longest such stretch since the 1930s, according to Labor Department statistics.

According to the Gallup poll, adults under 30 were more than twice as likely as those over 50 to say their standard of living was improving. Additionally, Americans in the South and West were slightly more optimistic about their economic future than those in the Midwest and East, according to Gallup.