More Americans say they are “suffering” economically in 2022 than in 2008, according to a new survey.
According to Gallup’s “Life Evaluation Index” for July, 5.6% of Americans said they were “suffering” in life, the highest number on record since Gallup established the index in 2008, breaking the previous record set in April. That figure is also higher than it was at any point during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns, or during the Great Recession. At the same time, the number of Americans who describe themselves as “thriving” dropped to an 18-month low.
“Since reaching a record high in June 2021, life ratings among American adults have steadily worsened,” Gallup reported. “The 5.6% suffering rate in July marks the first time the Gallup measure has exceeded 5% in the U.S. and translates to an estimated 14 million American adults.”
Using a metric called the Cantril Self-Anchoring Striving Scale, Gallup asked respondents to rate their current lives and anticipated lives in five years on a scale of 1 to 10, and classifies as “suffering,” “struggling,” or “thriving” based on their responses. “Those who rate both their current and future lives a 4 or lower are classified as suffering,” Gallup noted. “Those who rate their current life a 7 or higher and their anticipated life in five years an 8 or higher are classified as thriving.”
Americans of all political stripes have been classified as “suffering” at higher rates since last year. In June 2021, just 2.9% of Democrats, 4.7% of Independents, and 2.7% of Republicans were classified as “suffering.” Since then, the “suffering” rate has doubled among Republicans to 5.4%; nearly doubled among Democrats, also to 5.4%; and climbed significantly among Independents to 6.2%.
On the flip side of the “suffering scale,” the number of Americans who were classified as “thriving” dropped to an 18-month low. Just 51.2% of Americans were classified as “thriving,” the lowest number since January 2021. Among Democrats, 53% were classified as “thriving,” while 52.2% of Republicans and just 47.7% of independents were “thriving.” That number was a steep decline from the high point of the index, 59.2%, set in June 2021; but it was still above the lowest mark on record, 46.4%, which was set for the first time during the Great Recession in November 2008 and again in April 2020, during the beginning of COVID lockdowns.
Americans’ dismal outlook on their current and future lives is likely mostly affected by equally dismal economic conditions, Gallup noted. Inflation soared to record highs for months on end, reaching a peak of 9.1% in June before finally cooling slightly to 8.5% in July. The U.S. economy also entered a recession in July, after recording two quarters of negative economic growth, despite the Biden administration’s attempts to spin the numbers. These factors have also dragged the Gallup Economic Confidence Index to its lowest levels since the Great Recession.
Gallup’s findings also come after several studies have shown just how severely inflation has impacted Americans. Recent data from LendingClub showed that 61% of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck, including more than one third of Americans making more than $200,000 a year, up from 55% in 2021, as The Daily Wire reported earlier this month. Another study from the University of Iowa, reported by The Daily Wire, found that rural Americans are spending 91% of their after-tax income on their day-to-day expenses.
The Gallup Life Evaluation Index survey of 3,649 U.S. adults was conducted between July 26 and August 2, 2022.