Fifty-seven percent of Americans say their standard of living is getting better, according to Gallup Daily tracking for the three-day period ending Feb. 4 — tying the highest three-day reading since Gallup began tracking the question in January 2008. Twenty-seven percent say their standard of living is getting worse and 15% say it is staying the same.
Americans’ optimism about their standard of living has been generally improving since the beginning of the new year. The trend also mirrors Americans’ increasing economic confidence.
Separately, 75% of Americans say they are satisfied with their standard of living. This percentage has been highly stable over time, but the current reading is on the high end of what Gallup has measured over the last five years.
Although the intensity of terrorist incidents seems to be declining globally, there has been a surge of violent Islamist activity across West Africa, where both new and established armed groups are destabilising fragile states and creating a regional security threat. While the problem remains local for the moment, the international community is keen to avoid any regional safe havens from becoming springboards for terrorist activities further afield. But instead of intervening directly, it is focusing on supporting African forces on the ground, calculating that ‘African solutions to African problems’ should be the most effective and lasting.
The most recent statistics on global terrorist incidents, produced by the United States National Counterterrorism Center, paint a broadly encouraging picture. In 2011 the number of terrorist attacks across the globe fell to a five-year low. Osama bin Laden’s vision of global jihad has been rejected by mainstream Islamic opinion and al-Qaeda, which he led until his death in 2011, is in disarray. But these headline figures hide significant regional discrepancies: violent incidents in Africa and Latin America have reached a five-year high.
Groundbreaking for U.S. homes rebounded in April and factory activity gained steam, suggesting a moderate pick up in economic growth early in the second quarter.
The reports on Wednesday were the latest in a series to dampen fears that the recovery in the world’s largest economy was stagnating after tepid job growth last month.
The Commerce Department said housing starts increased 2.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 717,000 units.
In a separate report, the Federal Reserve said production at the nation’s mines, factories and utilities rose 1.1 percent - the largest gain since December 2010.
“The economy is grinding its way forward, but it’s not firing on all cylinders. There is plenty of reasons to be nervous; Europe is top on that list,” said Ryan Sweet, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics in West Chester, Pennsylvania.
The reports came on the heels of data on Tuesday showing a strong rebound in factory activity in New York state and confidence among home builders hit a five-year high this month. Retail sales in April also showed underlying strength.
Stocks on Wall Street pushed higher on the housing and industrial production data. Sentiment was also buoyed by hopes that debt-stricken Greece would remain in the euro zone.
Prices for U.S. Treasury debt fell, while the dollar was marginally firmer against a basket of currencies.