Residents of Hawaii, Utah, and South Dakota were the most likely to be "thriving" in the first half of 2012 based on how they rate their lives today and their expectations for their lives in five years. Residents of West Virginia and Maine were the least likely to be thriving.
Americans Upbeat About Local Economy, Down on the WorldSource: Gallup
Americans become progressively less positive about economic conditions the farther away from home they look. Forty-nine percent rate economic conditions in their local area as excellent or good, but that drops to 25% when rating the U.S. economy, and to 13% when assessing the world as a whole.
U.S. Homeownership Hits Decade Low
The 62% of Americans who say they own their own home marks a new low since Gallup began tracking self-reported homeownership in 2001.
The current level of homeownership marks a decline from 68% in 2011. For most of the prior decade, roughly seven in 10 Americans reported owning their own home. While the recession and financial crisis took place in 2008-2009, homeownership rates didn’t begin to reflect the bursting of the housing bubble until 2010, when 65% of Americans reported owning their own home — the lowest level recorded before this year.
Mississippi Is Most Religious U.S. StateSource: Gallup
Mississippi is the most religious U.S. state, and is one of eight states where Gallup classifies at least half of the residents as "very religious." At the other end of the spectrum, Vermont and New Hampshire are the least religious states, and are two of the five states — along with Maine, Massachusetts, and Alaska — where less than 30% of all residents are very religious.
Americans Give Record-High Ratings to Several U.S. Allies
Americans are feeling more favorably toward several of the United States’ major allies in 2012 than they have in the past. This year’s ratings for Canada (96%), Australia (93%), Germany (86%), Japan (83%), and India (75%) are all record highs for those countries in Gallup trends that stretch back at least a decade. Additionally, the survey finds Great Britain (90%), France (75%), and Israel (71%) rated near their all-time highs.
Hawaii, Alaska, D.C. Lead in Gov’t Jobs
Nearly 3 out of every 10 workers in Hawaii (29.7%), Alaska (29.6%), and the District of Columbia (29.1%) work for federal, state, or local government, at a time when government employment is declining nationally at all levels. Pennsylvania has the lowest percentage of government workers, at 11.8%.
Slightly Fewer Americans Obese in 2011Source: Gallup
Slightly fewer American adults were obese in 2011 (26.1%) than in 2010 (26.6%) and 2009 (26.5%). This decline was largely offset by a slight increase in the percentage of Americans reporting a normal weight — increasing to 36.1% last year from 35.4% in 2010 — while the percentage overweight, but not obese, showed less change.
Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton Again Top Most Admired List
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama continue to be named by Americans as the Most Admired Woman and Most Admired Man living today in any part of the world. Clinton has been the Most Admired Woman each of the last 10 years, and Obama has been the Most Admired Man four years in a row. Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, Sarah Palin, and Condoleezza Rice round out the top five Most Admired women, while the top five Most Admired men also include George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Billy Graham, and Warren Buffett.
Employer-Based Health Insurance Continues to Trend Down
The percentage of American adults who get their health insurance from an employer continues to decline, falling to 44.5% in the third quarter of this year. This percentage has been steadily declining since Gallup and Healthways started tracking Americans’ health insurance sources in 2008.
Self-Reported Gun Ownership in U.S. Is Highest Since 1993
Forty-seven percent of American adults currently report that they have a gun in their home or elsewhere on their property. This is up from 41% a year ago and is the highest Gallup has recorded since 1993, albeit marginally above the 44% and 45% highs seen during that period.
The new result comes from Gallup’s Oct. 6-9 Crime poll, which also finds public support for personal gun rights at a high-water mark. Given this, the latest increase in self-reported gun ownership could reflect a change in Americans’ comfort with publicly stating that they have a gun as much as it reflects a real uptick in gun ownership.
Republicans (including independents who lean Republican) are more likely than Democrats (including Democratic leaners) to say they have a gun in their household: 55% to 40%. While sizable, this partisan gap is narrower than that seen in recent years, as Democrats’ self-reported gun ownership spiked to 40% this year.
More Americans Now Normal Weight Than Overweight
The percentage of Americans who are overweight or obese declined slightly in the third quarter of 2011, while the percentage who are a normal weight increased. For the first time in more than three years, more Americans are a normal weight (36.6%) than are overweight (35.8%).
The overweight and normal weight trend lines have tracked closely together since Gallup and Healthways started monitoring Americans’ weight situation daily in January 2008. Though it is noteworthy that more adults are now a normal weight than overweight, it is too early to tell if this shift is temporary or permanent.
The recent slight decline in the nation’s obesity rate is a positive contrast to the rising levels found in 2009 and throughout most of 2010. However, the majority of Americans are still at an unhealthy weight — either overweight or obese (61.6%).
Americans Rate Computer Industry Best, Federal Gov’t Worst
Americans view the computer industry the most positively and the federal government the least positively when asked to rate 25 business and industry sectors. All five of the top-rated sectors this year are related to either computers or food.
Working American caregivers — those who work at least 15 hours per week and help care for an aging family member, relative, or friend — report that their caregiving obligations significantly affect their work life.
The majority of caregivers say that caregiving has at least some impact on their performance at work. Based on a five-point scale, where five is a great impact and one is no impact, 10% of caregivers choose five and 44% pick somewhere between two and four.
Additionally, 24% of caregivers say that providing care to an aging family member, relative, or friend keeps them from being able to work more.
Most caregivers also report missing entire workdays as a result of their caregiving responsibilities. Thirty-six percent report missing one to five days per year because of caregiving duties, while 30% say they missed six or more days in the past year.
Overall, caregivers reporting missing an average of 6.6 workdays per year. With approximately 17% of the American full-time workforce acting as caregivers, this amounts to a combined 126 million missed workdays each year. This absenteeism costs the U.S. economy an estimated $25.2 billion in lost productivity per year. Including caregivers who work part time in the equation would cause absenteeism costs to climb even higher.
Underemployment Tougher on Highly Educated Americans
Underemployment is tougher on the life evaluation ratings of college graduates and postgraduates than on Americans who are less educated. The percentage of highly educated underemployed Americans who rate their lives well enough to be considered “thriving” is 17 percentage points lower than their employed counterparts. Among the less educated, thriving drops 10 points when underemployed.
Although underemployment appears to have a greater effect on how the highly educated rate their lives, they are still more positive than the less educated who are also underemployed.
In U.S., Negative Views of the Tea Party Rise to New High
About half of Americans, 47%, now have an unfavorable image of the Tea Party movement, the highest since it emerged on the national scene.
Gallup began tracking Americans’ views of the Tea Party in March 2010, when 37% had a favorable and 40% an unfavorable view. Those views stayed roughly the same through January of this year, but have now turned somewhat more negative. The April 20-23 USA Today/Gallup poll finds favorable opinions of the Tea Party movement dropping to 33%, from 39% in January, and unfavorable opinions rising to 47% from 42%. Twenty percent of Americans say they haven’t heard of the Tea Party or have no opinion of it.
Lobbyists, major corporations, banks, and the federal government all have too much power, according to Americans. By contrast, the public largely believes state and local governments, the legal system, organized religion, and the military each have the right amount of power or too little power. Labor unions elicit mixed responses, with the plurality saying they have too much power, but a slim majority saying their power is about right or lacking.
More Americans Back Unions Than Governors in State Disputes