More half of Americans worry about maintaining their standard of living, according to a new poll.
Gallup Inc., Washington, D.C., published this finding in a summary of results from Jan. 5-8 poll. Since 1991, Gallup has periodically asked Americans about financial events that concern them. The trend includes updates in January of four presidential election years: 1992, 2004, 2008, and 2012.
Americans' worries about maintaining their standard of living (51%), being able to pay medical bills (43%) or losing their job (34%) in the next 12 months are among the highest Gallup has measured in the past 20 years, on par with the levels seen in 1991 and 1992, Gallup says.
Americans' economic anxiety today is most similar to what it was in 1992, though Americans are slightly less worried about not being able to pay medical bills now (43%) than they were then (48%).
The late January/early February 2008 survey was conducted as the U.S. was in the beginning of an economic recession and Americans were becoming increasingly worried about the economy, but before the financial crisis unfolded later that year.
Americans were less worried at that time than they are now about losing a job (23% versus 34%) and paying medical bills (33% versus 43%). But Americans are as worried about not being able to maintain their standard of living (50% versus 51%).
Gallup says that Americans' financial concerns remain high even as economic confidence is improving.
The poll also included three items -- worry about home values not increasing, worry about outliving one's money after retiring, and worry that the economy will get worse in the next year -- in addition to the core items that date to 1991.
Of the six items, Americans are most worried that the economy will get worse, at 72%, followed by outliving their money in retirement (57%).
The 51% worried about home values not increasing matches the percentage worried about not being able to maintain their standard of living.