Do you expect to be better off a year from now? A new Gallup poll finds that a majority of Americans (63 percent) expect their financial situation to improve in 2013, up from 52 percent four years ago. The 18 percent who expect to be financially worse off in a year is by one percentage point the lowest since 2003.
Financial expectations are now about what they were when George W. Bush took office in January 2001, Gallup finds. The 63 percent “better off” reading compares with 60 percent in January 2004, 66 percent in March 1996 and 51 percent in March 1992, all years in which incumbent presidents were seeking re-election.
Gallup has been asking the “better off” question since 1977. Three years later it would enter the national vernacular when presidential candidate Ronald Reagan posed the rhetorical question in his 1980 debate with incumbent Jimmy Carter. The high point for economic optimism in Gallup’s history of asking this question came in March 1998, when 71 percent of Americans said they would be better off in a year, compared with 9 percent who said they would be worse off. The lowest level was in June 1979, when one-third said they would be better off and 27 percent said worse.
Nearly half (49 percent) of households with a net worth between $100,000 and $1 million (not including primary residence) are optimistic that their financial situations will be better off next year, according to a first quarter wealth level study conducted by Millionaire Corner. Those under the age of 45 are particularly optimistic about their financial futures with 63 percent expecting to be better off financially next year.
They are less positive about their financial situation at present compared with one year ago. Thirty-seven percent told Millionaire Corner they are better off now. This is the same percentage that told Gallup that they are currently better off, while 42 percent said they worse in worse financial condition.
The percentage who said they are better off is up from earlier this year, and from measures taken since 2008, Gallup said, but is still considerably lower than at other points in the last decade, including the recent high of 50 percent in January 2007.
Americans will “optimistically and consistently” say that their financial situations will improve in the year ahead rather than deteriorate, Gallup finds. Even in the depths of the recession in 2008, more than half of Americans maintained their belief that they would be better off in a year.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.