Gallup‘s annual Economy and Finance survey was conducted from April 9th through 12th this year, and the results show that Americans are more optimistic about their finances than any time in the last decade and change. More than 52% of respondents to Gallup survey said their financial situation is “getting better,” the highest percentage since 2004. This is the first time since the recession that the majority of Americans reported that their financial situation was improving.
This represents an increase of 9% in optimism about finances from last year, as only 43% of Americans responded that their financial situation was improving in the 2014 Economy and Finance survey.
More on the Gallup Economy and Finance survey
Of note, Gallup has been surveying Americans regarding whether their financial situation is getting better or getting worse since 2001. 2002 was the high water mark, when 60% of Americans reported their financial situation was getting better; 2011 was when Americans were least optimistic about their condition, as the government shutdown over raising the debt ceiling again resulted in a shaky, volatile stock market.
The Gallup report notes there are a number of reasons why Americans are currently more optimistic about their financial situation. Gas prices have dropped an average of $1.25 over the last year, meaning more cash in consumers’ pockets. Of interest, Americans are more positive about the national economy as well s their own personal situation. Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index has been moving up throughout 2015, and has turned positive for the first time in several years. Also of note, the unemployment rate has dropped to 5.5%, down from over 10% five years ago.
Details on the 2014 survey and increased optimism about finances
Financial optimism is up across all key subgroups this year. The percentage reporting that their financial situation is improving is up in every income group compared to 2014. Fifty-one percent of Americans who make between $20,000 and $30,000 per year say their financial situation is getting better, a big increase from just 35% last year. Fourteen percent of t hose who make more than $75,000 report improved finances 14 percentage points from last year, but middle-income Americans are just barely more optimistic than last year.
In an apparent contradiction, when asked to rate their financial situation today, most Americans feel their current situation is unchanged from last year. Around 46% rate their current situation as “excellent” or “good.” The Gallup report notes that this figure has remained stable over the last decade after moving up to 57% in 2003 before the Great Recession. The two lowest points were in 2010 and 2012, when a mere 41% said their financial situation was excellent or good.