Emotional well-being has seen its share of ups and downs in the last year or so. Ongoing tracking by the CivicScience Well-Being Index, which measures how strongly U.S. consumers report a range of different emotions, finds that fluctuations have coincided with major national and global events. These included the start of the war in Ukraine, the Uvalde school shooting, and the overturning of Roe v. Wade in 2022. Rapidly growing inflation and the COVID-19 pandemic were also contributing to a sense of uncertainty and instability.

Although the after-effects of many of these events are still being felt, this year looks starkly different. The emotional well-being of Americans has improved significantly in 2023, well surpassing 2022 percentages. Setbacks like the banking and debt ceiling crises and concerns over an economic recession haven’t been enough to quell an upward trajectory, as inflation growth has cooled and consumers move on from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Well-being saw its biggest lift this year from February to April, rising 0.9 percentage points. Although losing some momentum from April to May, well-being continued to rise month to month. At 57.9%, May marks the highest point seen on the index from January 2022 onward.

This streak of optimism is a positive economic indicator, as CivicScience analysis has shown increased well-being correlates with increased likelihood to spend – and is particularly strong in certain categories of consumer goods. However, it’s important to note the monthly index represents an average of all U.S. adults; looking at the trend line by demographics shows that well-being varies drastically among the population. Women, young adults, Black Americans, and lower-income earners are among those much more likely to regularly report lower levels of well-being, which include how strongly emotions such as happiness, stress, fear, and worry are felt.

U.S. adults that identify as LGBTQ+ are also more likely to report lower levels of well-being. Despite recent data finding that relatively high percentages of the general population believe acceptance of LGBTQ+ individuals has improved in the past 10 years (with acceptance of transgender people being the lowest), well-being reported by LGBTQ+ consumers remains well below average and is distinctly different from the general population.

A closer look shows that well-being among LGBTQ+ consumers rests at 49.9% as of May, which is 8 points lower than the U.S. average. Overall, the well-being of LGBTQ+ respondents mirrored that of the general population in 2022, with some exceptions. However, well-being among LGBTQ+ consumers has not witnessed the same steady improvement as the Gen Pop’s this year.

Age has a lot to do with this difference. While most age groups (including Gen Z) saw steady growth in well-being since the start of the year, well-being among LGBTQ+ individuals under age 54 hasn’t climbed. In May, LGBTQ+ Gen Z adults averaged the lowest on the index (47.5%), which was lower than all Gen Z adults (53.7%). LGBTQ+ adults aged 25-34 and 35-54 averaged slightly above Gen Z (at 49%), but also lower than all adults in those age ranges.

In contrast, LGBTQ+ adults 55+ have reported increasing well-being over the course of the year, reaching 59.8% in May, although still lower than all adults in the same age group (62.8%). Like the general population, it’s clear that age plays a significant role in the emotional well-being of LGBTQ+ consumers.

Stay tuned for more consumer insights like these. Or work with us to get ahead of the curve.

What is the CivicScience Well-Being Index? 

Everything affects everything – that includes how a person feels at any given moment in time. The CivicScience Well-Being Index rapidly captures the collective emotional well-being of the population on a daily basis by asking thousands of survey respondents to report on how strongly they feel different emotions. Through living indexes like the Well-Being Index, CivicScience helps businesses and organizations better understand what’s driving consumer choices, empowering them with the data-driven insight needed to navigate our rapidly changing times.