Coronavirus tracked: Americans are unhappiest they’ve been in nearly 50 years, poll says

For the first time since records began, more people said they were unhappy than very happy

Happiness among Americans has fallen to the lowest level in nearly five decades during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new poll.

The Covid Response Tracking Study, conducted by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC), found that morale was at the lowest point it has ever been since tracking emotional health trends began in 1972.

The number of people who described themselves as very happy fell by 17 points to just 14 per cent in 2020. The previous record low ⁠— seen shortly after the 2007/8 Financial Crisis ⁠— was 29 per cent.

For the first time in 48 years, more people said they were unhappy than very happy. More than 60 per cent of Americans reported being “pretty happy”.

Interviews of the 2,279 US adults that took part in the survey took place between 21-29 May, while large parts of the country were under some form of lockdown designed to contain the spread of the Covid-19 virus.


Feelings of loneliness have also increased as a result of the coronavirus lockdown, with half of all respondents saying they felt isolated either very often, often or sometimes.

When asked the same question two years previously, less than a quarter of respondents said they experienced feelings of isolation.


The survey also revealed that people are less optimistic about the standard of living for the next generation, with positive sentiment falling from 57 per cent to 42 per cent between 2018 and 2020. The previous low was 45 per cent in 1994.

Beyond examining people’s mental and emotional health, the survey also revealed that a record number of respondents were satisfied with their finances.

“The historical context reveals unique impacts of the outbreak on public sentiment: an all-time low in people saying they are very happy combined with an all-time high in people saying they are satisfied with their family’s financial situation,” the report stated.

“These contrasting findings suggest that people are comparing their happiness to their own psychological well-being before the pandemic while assessing their finances in relation to the millions of fellow Americans who have lost jobs, wages, or investments following the outbreak.”

NORC plans to conduct additional surveys in 2020 in order to track how Americans’ responses to the pandemic evolve over time.

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