It’s only June, but it’s already been a difficult and trying year for many Americans. Now, a new poll indicates that people in the U.S. are more unhappy today than they’ve been in almost 50 years, mainly due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Associated Press reports that the new findings come from the COVID Response Tracking Study, conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago. This year’s survey found that 14 percent of American adults are very happy, while 31 percent said the same in 2018. That same year, 23 percent said they often or sometimes felt isolated in recent weeks. Now, that percentage is at 50.
The poll was conducted in late May, and takes into account “nearly a half-century of research from the General Social Survey, which has collected data on American attitudes and behaviors at least every other year since 1972,” the AP writes. There has never been a time when less than 29 percent of Americans have ever called themselves very happy in that survey.
A majority of the study’s interviews were finished before George Floyd’s murder that sparked global protests and conversations about racism and police brutality. Both the pandemic and ongoing protests have clearly added to Americans’ stress, particularly Black Americans.
The new poll also found that around twice as many Americans report being lonely today, as compared to 2018. Louise Hawkley, a senior research scientist with NORC at the University of Chicago, was surprised at the fact that loneliness wasn’t even more commonplace.
“It isn’t as high as it could be," Hawkley said. “People have figured out a way to connect with others. It’s not satisfactory, but people are managing to some extent.”