This year has been a tough one for many American families with the COVID-19 pandemic sending the country into a spiraling recession. Now, new studies show that this has obviously affected the American psyche. A new poll has concluded that Americans are more unhappy today than they’ve been in nearly 50 years. 

This conclusion comes from the COVID Response Tracking Study, conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago. The study finds that 14 percent of American adults are very happy, while 31 percent said the same in 2018. That year, 23% said they’d often or sometimes felt isolated in recent weeks. Now, 50% of people surveyed say that. 

Most of this year’s survey interviews were completed before the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd sparked nationwide protests and conversations surrounding police brutality, which have added to the feelings of stress and loneliness that Americans were already facing due to the pandemic-- especially for Black Americans. 

The study was conducted in late May and draws on nearly a half-century of research from the General Social Survey, which has collected data on American attitudes since 1972. There has never been a time where less than 29% have called themselves unhappy in that survey. 

Senior research scientist Louise Hawkley with NORC at the University of Chicago shared her thoughts on Americans being lonely.

“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.”

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