Sour end to 2012 masks positive trends in America

Mon Dec 31, 2012 8:54pm EST
 
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By Greg McCune

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Many Americans seem to be in a sour mood as 2013 begins, after Hurricane Sandy ravaged parts of the East Coast, a gunman massacred 20 school children in Connecticut and a long, contentious election campaign was followed by failure to resolve the "fiscal cliff" issue by year-end.

Americans have not been very optimistic since the Great Recession of 2008-2009, but the gloom had begun to lift this year until the blast of bad news as 2012 ended, IPSOS pollster Cliff Young said on Monday. IPSOS polling showed that some angst set in as the year ended.

Sixty-eight percent of respondents said the economy was on the wrong track at the end of 2012, IPSOS said, and 64 percent had a negative opinion of national politics.

"I do think these events had some sort of effect on people's short-term prospects," Young said.

But the headlines of 2012 belie a number of positive underlying trends in America, and Young said he expects public opinion to turn more positive in the new year.

Here is a summary of some of the positive trends in health, health, security, the environment, personal finance and education:

COLLEGE EDUCATION: More than 30 percent of Americans 25 years of age or older have finished four years of college, the highest level since 1940. Another 26 percent of adults have completed one to three years of college such as a community college, according to Census Bureau data.

This is important because the lifetime earnings of a person with a college associate's degree working from age 25 to 64 will be $442,000 more than that of a high school graduate. A bachelor's degree could yield $1 million more in lifetime earnings, a Census Bureau study found.   Continued...

 
Fireworks explode over Times Square as the crystal ball is hoisted before New Year celebrations in New York December 31, 2012. REUTERS/Joshua Lott