Feeling better

Feeling better

The public mood is improving.

The political eccentricity of President Donald Trump has induced anxiety across segments of American society. But, despite that, a Gallup Poll shows that Americans feel better about their economic status.

The Gallup polling organization reveals 62 percent of Americans identify themselves as upper-middle or middle class, numbers it said are similar to pre-recession 2008. The poll showed 2 percent of Americans identify as upper class while 36 percent identify as working or lower class.

Gallup said "Americans' identification as upper-middle or middle class was lower in 2012 and 2015, but rose across three surveys taken last fall, and has edged up slightly more in Gallup's June 7-11 poll."

The poll is based on how Americans perceive their economic circumstances rather than on objective measures like education or net worth.

Not surprisingly, age was a key factor. Younger Americans are less confident about their economic standing as compared with those 65 and older. It's hardly a revelation that those just starting on building careers or families are less financially settled than those retired or approaching retirement.

The optimism reflected in the poll is a key ingredient to a strong economy because the more confident people feel about themselves and their futures, the more likely they are to contribute to economic activity by spending, rather than holding on to, money.

The poll showed that 44 percent of Americans consider themselves to be middle class, 28 percent working class and 18 percent upper middle class.

Gallup said previous research "shows that the decline of middle-class identifiers in the 2012 and 2015 surveys compared with 2008, plus the subsequent rebound in 2016 (which has continued in 2017), was evident across all income levels but was more pronounced among those without a college degree."

In an age where there has been considerable attention paid to the income gap between the richest and poorest Americans, it's instructive to see that increasing numbers of people consider themselves safely in the middle.

That, of course, does not minimize society's obligation to build a strong economy that produces increased employment opportunities. But it is comforting to see that greater numbers of people feel that they're on solid economic ground.

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