WASHINGTON D.C. -- The percentage of Americans experiencing a lot of happiness/enjoyment without a lot of stress/worry hit a new low for the year on Monday at 39%. The depressed mood coincides with the beginning of the turmoil on Wall Street and in the financial markets that began to unfold in the major news media on Sunday and Monday.
The index, which asks Americans 18 and older to reflect on the level of happiness and stress they experienced the day before the survey, has shown consistent upswings in mood on weekends and holidays for most Americans. Reflecting on the typical Saturday or Sunday, 58% of Americans report a lot of happiness and enjoyment without a lot of stress or worry. This drops to 46% on a typical Monday. This past weekend, Saturday was like most Saturdays (58%), but Sunday was uncharacteristic (53%), in line with the news of imminent troubles of Lehman Brothers' bankruptcy and Merrill Lynch. Still, the drop from Sunday to Monday was more than typical at 14 percentage points, and the drop in mood from Saturday to Monday was a full 19 points (compared to a typical 12-point drop in mood over the weekend to weekday transition).
The record low mood experienced Monday came with the news of Lehman Brothers filing for bankruptcy, Merrill Lynch being sold to Bank of America, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average registering a record decline. The lowest previously registered measure of happiness was 41%, with two of the four occasions when the number dipped to 41% also coinciding with economic woes, specifically on March 18, when the Fed announced a rate cut in response to a weakening economic outlook and on June 9, when gas prices rose to record highs. -- Raksha Arora and Jim Harter
For the Gallup Poll Daily tracking survey, Gallup is interviewing no fewer than 1,000 U.S. adults nationwide each day during 2008.
The U.S. mood results are based on data from Jan. 2-Sept. 16, 2008, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±2 percentage points.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones (for respondents with a landline telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell phone only).
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
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