Americans Are Feeling Better About Their Financial Situation

For the first time since the Great Recession began, more Americans feel like they are better off now than a year ago than those who said they are in worse financial shape. According to Gallup, almost half, 47%, now feel they are better off financially, compared to 28% who feel the opposite. These results are reminiscent of those Gallup finds when the U.S. economy is healthy, such as in the late 1980s and late 1990s.

There are plenty of reasons for their rising optimism. Gasoline prices have fallen dramatically over the past several months. Stock markets have hit all-time highs, and the employment situation is clearly improving.

Gallup commented on the specifics of their latest findings:

Americans in all key subgroups see an improved personal financial outlook, with each showing at least marginal improvement in their ratings between the January 2014 and January 2015 polls. Younger Americans and those living in middle-income households saw slightly greater improvements, with increases of 20 and 19 points, respectively, in the percentage of each group saying they are better off financially.

Lower-income Americans showed only a slight increase from 32% getting better in 2014 to 36% this year. Lower-income Americans are the only key subgroup who remain more likely to say their situation is getting worse rather than better.

The results also suggested that Republicans might be reluctant to acknowledge that their situations had improved while the sitting president is a Democrat.

ALSO READ: The Best and Worst Run States in America: A Survey of All 50

Looking ahead, Americans also have high expectations. Some 65% of respondents indicated they expect to be better off a year from now, versus only 15% who anticipate being worse off. That expected improvement was only six points below the peak of 71% from March 1998.

Gallup concluded:

The current personal financial situation ratings are now at or near the high levels Gallup measured in the past four decades when the U.S. economy was strong. The improvement is especially notable given that just five years ago, near the end of the Great Recession, Americans gave the bleakest assessment of their personal finances at any time in the last 40 years.

As usual, most Americans expect things to continue to improve over the next year, but the optimism they express about the coming year also exceeds what is typical. Whether Americans’ finances actually improve over the coming year will depend in large part on whether the national economy continues to get better, or takes a step back.

Methodology: Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Jan. 5 to 8, 2015, with a random sample of 804 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

READ ALSO: The 10 States With the Best Quality of Life

Sponsored: Tips for Investing

A financial advisor can help you understand the advantages and disadvantages of investment properties. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

Investing in real estate can diversify your portfolio. But expanding your horizons may add additional costs. If you’re an investor looking to minimize expenses, consider checking out online brokerages. They often offer low investment fees, helping you maximize your profit.