Despite strong gains in the stock market over the past year, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average’s reaching record highs in the past month, stock ownership among U.S. adults is at its lowest level in Gallup trends since 1998, essentially unchanged from a year ago. Just over half of Americans, 52%, now say they personally, or jointly with a spouse, own stock outright or as part of a mutual fund or self-directed retirement account.
Minneapolis-St. Paul Area Residents Most Likely to Feel Safe; Memphis area residents least likely to feel safe
Eighty percent of those living in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area say they feel safe walking alone at night in the area where they live, the highest percentage among the 50 largest U.S. metropolitan areas. Minneapolis is followed closely by Denver, Raleigh, Boston, Salt Lake City, and Austin.
Provo-Orem, Utah, is the most religious of 189 U.S. metropolitan areas Gallup surveyed in 2012, with 77% of its residents classified as very religious. Burlington, Vt., and Boulder, Colo., are the least religious, with 17% meeting that threshold. Most of the top religious cities are in the South — the exceptions are Provo; Ogden-Clearfield, Utah; and Holland-Grand Haven, Mich. The least religious cities are clustered in the Northeast and on the Pacific Coast, with the exception of Boulder and Madison, Wis.
For Fourth Year, Hawaii No. 1 in Wellbeing, W.Va. Last
Hawaii residents have the highest wellbeing in the nation for the fourth consecutive year, with a Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index score of 71.1 in 2012 — up from 70.2 in 2011. Colorado, Minnesota, Utah, and Vermont rounded out the top five states with the highest wellbeing scores last year. West Virginia residents have the lowest overall wellbeing for the fourth year in a row, with a Well-Being Index score of 61.3 in 2012 — slightly lower than the 62.3 in 2011. Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Arkansas also had among the five lowest wellbeing scores in the country.
Latin Americans are the most positive people in the world, with their region being home to eight of the top 10 countries for positive emotions worldwide. Residents in Panama and Paraguay are the most likely to report experiencing positive emotions. Singaporeans, Armenians, and Iraqis are least likely worldwide to report feeling positive emotions.
Gallup measured positive emotions in 148 countries and areas in 2011 using five questions. These questions ask people whether they experienced a lot of enjoyment the day before the survey and whether they felt respected, well-rested, laughed and smiled a lot, and did or learned something interesting.
The average percentage of respondents worldwide who said "yes" to these five questions reflects a relatively upbeat world. Gallup found that 85% of adults worldwide felt treated with respect all day, 72% smiled and laughed a lot, 73% felt enjoyment a lot of the day, and 72% felt well-rested. The only emotion that less than half of people worldwide reported experiencing was getting to learn or do something interesting the previous day, at 43%. Despite many global challenges, people worldwide are experiencing many positive emotions.
The inaugural results of a new Gallup question — posed to more than 120,000 U.S. adults thus far — shows that 3.4% say "yes" when asked if they identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.
These results are based on responses to the question, "Do you, personally, identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender?" included in 121,290 Gallup Daily tracking interviews conducted between June 1 and Sept. 30, 2012. This is the largest single study of the distribution of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) population in the U.S. on record. By comparison, the General Social Survey, a project of NORC at the University of Chicago, asked a sexual orientation question in its 2008 and 2010 survey of about 2,000 adults in each year. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Survey of Family Growth asked a sexual orientation question of about 12,000 young adults aged 18 to 44 in 2002 and of more than 20,000 adults in its 2006-2010 survey. The 3.4% figure is similar to a 3.8% estimate made by one of the authors of this study (Gates), averaging a group of smaller U.S. surveys conducted from 2004 to 2008.
In U.S., Trust in State, Local Governments Up
Americans’ trust in their state and local governments has increased this year, with 74% expressing a great deal or fair amount of trust in local government and 65% in state government. Trust in state government has now essentially returned to levels seen before the financial crisis, after falling to as low as 51% in 2009.
The results are based on Gallup’s annual Governance survey, conducted Sept. 6-9. Americans’ trust in the federal government’s ability to handle international and domestic issues and their trust in the three branches of the federal government are all up at least marginally this year.
Americans typically trust local government more than state government, but a majority have expressed trust in each every time Gallup has measured trust. The public’s trust in local government has been more stable over time, and thus appears to be affected less by state or national political and economic factors than trust in state government is.
State government trust dipped to 53% in 2003 amid the California recall of Gov. Gray Davis, largely due to the influence of Californians’ trust on the national numbers. Trust quickly rebounded to 67% in 2004, then held steady at that level through 2008. Then the 2008-2009 financial crisis caused state governments to face financial hardships of their own, with many struggling to pay their obligations, and trust sank to 51% in 2009.
But with the economy improving somewhat and states apparently on better financial footing after making cutbacks in recent years, trust in state government has improved, a total of 14 percentage points since 2009.
PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools (PDF)
Source: Gallup (Phi Delta Kappa)
From press release (PDF):
Americans have a number of conflicting viewpoints in their preferences for investing in schools, going head-to-head on issues like paying for the education of the children of illegal immigrants, according to the 2012 annual PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools.
There are clear partisan divides over whether children of illegal immigrants should receive free public education, school lunches, and other benefits, with 65 percent of Democrats versus 21 percent of Republicans favoring it. Overall, support for providing public education to these children is increasing. Forty-one percent of Americans favor this, up from 28 percent in 1995.
Americans are also more divided across party lines than ever before in their support for public charter schools, with Republicans more supportive (80 percent) than Democrats (54 percent). However, approval declined overall to 66 percent this year from a record 70 percent last year. Additionally, the public is split in its support of school vouchers, with nearly half (44 percent) believing that we should allow students and parents to choose a private school to attend at public expense, up 10 percentage points from last year.
Though Americans clearly have opposing stances on many education issues, when the poll — conducted annually by Phi Delta Kappa International (PDK) in conjunction with Gallup — asked Americans whether they believe common core state standards would provide more consistency in the quality of education between school districts and states, 75 percent said yes. In fact, more than half of Americans (53 percent) believe common core state standards would make U.S. education more competitive globally.
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.