Yes, #CovidIsNotOver may be trending on social media. Nonetheless, Americans seem to be happier than ever.
Survey data released by Gallup this week indicate that as of this summer, 59.2 percent of Americans are "thriving"—the highest percentage ever recorded in Gallup's 13 years of measurement.
The most recent results, captured between June 14–20 as a part of the Gallup Panel, show a staggering rebound from the beginning of the pandemic.
In April 2020, just 46.4 percent of those surveyed considered themselves to be thriving. That number is tied for the lowest recorded level, on par with the worst of the 2008 financial crisis.
Gallup defines thriving based on two metrics: how people rate their overall satisfaction now, and how they project their overall satisfaction to be in five years. Those who rate their current life satisfaction at seven or higher out of 10, and their projected future life at eight or higher, are considered to be thriving.
Thriving rates have been improving rapidly since the beginning of the year, and it's not hard to understand why. The rising satisfaction comes with the widespread administration of the COVID-19 vaccine and the resulting reopening of the economy. People are happy that they can see their family and friends, and return to bars, restaurants, movie theaters, and coffee shops.
More surprisingly, Gallup's data also found that although people's ratings of current satisfaction went down during the pandemic, they stayed optimistic. Expected future satisfaction remained consistently higher than pre-COVID levels.
While there does not appear to be an obvious reason why this was the case, it is a reason to be optimistic about American's optimism.