Americans report they are enjoying life like never before in response to a survey on life conditions, a claim that may shock those who recall months ago, the nation was mired in a pandemic and unprecedented economic crisis.
Indeed, despite self-reports that almost 60% of Americans declare they are “thriving” in response to the Gallup ‘Life Evaluation Index’ on Wednesday – exceeding a previous high in September 2017 – those negative life conditions still loom in the background for many.
The happiness index has climbed to the highest in 13 years of measurement, rebounding back resoundingly from the initial Covid-19 outbreak, which saw responses fall 10 points to 46.4% in late April of last year. That was on a par with the last major recession in November 2008, according to Gallup.
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A graph charting Americans’ ratings of their own lives via the pollster is a whiplash-inducing ride, with rapid switches in directions triggered by presidential elections, widely-publicized bumps in the Covid-19 infection numbers and unemployment spikes, and – most recently – “widespread vaccinations and economic reopening,” according to Gallup, though the pollster doesn’t specify whether it’s the vaccines, the economic reopening, or both which have Americans whistling while they work.
That’s assuming, of course, that they are working. Just 266,000 new jobs were added to the rolls last month, despite economists expecting four times as many, and unemployment ticked up to 6.1%, with 8.1 million job openings available at the start of April – and employers are begging workers to come back.
Republicans blame the lack of uptake on what they see as overly generous unemployment benefits, which has seen some earning more on benefits than they would in a low-paying job – a possible explanation for the sanguine outlook in the Gallup poll. Democrats, on the other hand, point to lingering fears over Covid-19 and lack of affordable childcare as the reason for Americans’ reluctance to head back to work.
While many appear to be enjoying their time off and aren’t in any hurry to get back to work, some are apparently not content with the situation. A graph measuring “daily enjoyment” remains somewhat below pre-coronavirus levels (73% as opposed to a pre-pandemic peak of 81% as measured in March 2020).
But at least they aren’t as bored – the reopening economy has taken care of that, cutting the figure almost in half since the shutdown took away many people’s typical forms of entertainment last April. Only 26% of Americans reported being bored last month.
It’s unclear how Americans are entertaining themselves with all of this newfound money and time. Live music is getting off to a rocky start – while many big stars in the UK are publicly refusing to be a part of what British singer Richard Ashcroft called a “government experiment,” referring to large festivals tracking attendees’ coronavirus data and in some cases mandating vaccinations, many American musicians are merely keeping their fingers crossed that venues will allow several-times-postponed large summer festivals to go on, delays and all.
Plans for a nationwide “vaccine passport” have been repeatedly denied by the Biden administration, though Democratic governors like New York’s Andrew Cuomo have embraced the idea while his Republican counterparts like Florida’s Rick DeSantis ban it.
But eat-in dining has resumed at most restaurants, and Broadway performances are set to resume at many theaters in the fall, so, music or not, there will be amusement to be had.
Some 621,563 Americans have died with Covid-19 as of Wednesday according to Worldometers, though some, including scientists, have warned that the varying degrees of lockdowns and pandemic restrictions may only lead to more deaths and mental health crises.
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But it looks like Americans would rather not think about the past, with the Gallup poll showing that even as life satisfaction dipped during the pandemic, anticipated life satisfaction – as represented by “the best possible life for you” – has remained high throughout the crisis, with the two measures nearly converging as the date approached mid-June.
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