Americans are expressing more optimism about their personal financial prospects, but big majorities remain dissatisfied over wage growth and the cost of living, the latest Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll has found.
Across a range of measures, the survey found that the robust job gains of recent months and record highs in the stock market have not fundamentally lifted the cloud of economic anxiety that has lingered over the public since the Great Recession. Despite some improvement, opinions about the economy's current state—both overall and on specific measures like the job situation and wage growth—remain more negative than positive, the poll found.
But the survey found that a growing share of Americans believe the clouds may part in the coming months: Forty-four percent of those polled expect their financial situation to improve over the next year. That's the most optimism expressed on that question since June 2013. Moreover, the improvement has been concentrated among groups that have consistently expressed the most skepticism about President Obama, including white men with a college degree, and white men and women without one. "[The economy] seems to be going in the right direction now, so I expect it to keep getting better," says Mindy Bentley, a Republican stay-at-home mother in Winchester, Kentucky, who responded to the poll.
On many measures, the poll found some indications of expanding optimism, but mostly evidence of how deeply entrenched economic anxiety remains nearly six years after economists officially declared the end to the Great Recession in June 2009.