Americans’ satisfaction with the way things are going in the country leveled off in April at 24%, slightly lower than March’s 26%. Satisfaction remains higher than in any month in 2011 except May, and substantially higher than the recent low point last summer of 11%
Although the latest satisfaction rating of 24%, measured in Gallup’s April 9-12 survey, is two percentage points lower than March’s 26%, it reflects a generally more positive public than was the case for most of last year. Americans’ satisfaction now is also exactly where it was in January 2008, just as the full impact of the recession began to hit home to Americans.
The all-time low point for satisfaction in Gallup’s history is 7% in October 2008. Satisfaction rose into the 30% range after Barack Obama’s inauguration as president in early 2009, and then over time dropped to 11% in August and September of last year.
From a longer-term perspective, Americans’ satisfaction reached its all-time high of 71% in February 1999, toward the end of the dot-com boom of the late 1990s, and hit 70% in December 2001, part of the rally effect that followed the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the introduction of U.S. troops into Afghanistan. Satisfaction gradually drifted downward from that point until 2008, with occasional upward surges such as accompanied the capture of Saddam Hussein in late 2003.
Economy Remains Americans’ Top Concern
As has been the case in recent months, a little more than three in 10 Americans (32%) say the “economy” is the most important problem facing the country, followed closely by unemployment/jobs (25%).
The percentage of Americans mentioning gas or fuel prices is at 8% in April, up only one point from March, thus suggesting no dramatic upsurge in public concern about gas prices, at least as measured by this metric. Americans also were slightly more likely to mention healthcare issues (9%) this month than last (5%), perhaps reflecting the news focus on the Supreme Court’s late March review of the constitutionality of elements of the 2010 Affordable Care Act.
The top non-economic concern Americans mention is dissatisfaction with Congress and government (12%).
In general, Americans are significantly more likely to mention economic concerns than non-economic concerns in response to the “most important problem” question — as they have been consistently for the past two years.