As of time of writing, it’s been nearly two and a half years of life in a global pandemic. There have been quarantines, mask requirements, protests of mask requirements, and countless waves, variants, subvariants, vaccines, and more than just a few word salads of CDC guidelines. But perhaps the most prevalent character of the last few years is the existential weight of the world shifting out from under our feet in increasingly unpredictable ways. 

But at least at this point in the still-lingering pandemic, over two-thirds of the general population feel like their lives are at least somewhat back to normal. 

Unfortunately, however, not everyone harbors the same sentiments.

CivicScience has spent a lot of time covering the pandemic’s disproportionate effect on women. Contrary to that, the older and wealthier are more likely to feel their lives have gone back to a pre-pandemic normal. While younger people as a whole tend to over-index in their lives not being the same at all. 

Of course, those still employed are feeling like things are getting back to normal, while those who aren’t, aren’t. 

Going even further, we see that those who are better off, financially speaking, at this point have also seen their lives return to normal. Meanwhile, those much worse off continued to experience the world shifting away under their feet.

All of this data is to show, simply put, that while many feel like the pandemic is in the rearview, and they are very happy for it, those who have been impacted by the pandemic continue to be so, and in outsized ways. This trend will only serve to continue to reinforce the ever-widening gap between the haves and have-nots in the U.S.. 

Another way to look at this relationship is by job type. 

While most professions more or less have their lives back at relatively similar rates, those in service continue to be in flux. 

How People Feel About Life Being Back To Normal

Fortunately for most, 63% of those who report that their lives have returned to normal are feeling at least somewhat positive about it, while only 10% are feeling negative. 

Surprisingly, men and women share similar sentiments about life getting back to normal, but things differ a little more when cut across age and income. 

Those between 25-34 show a slightly higher rate of dissatisfaction with life going back to normal, as the lowest income levels also report the lowest amounts of positivity about a return to normal.

Further, when we cut across occupation type, we see those in sales and homemakers are the most pleased at the return to normal, by a wide margin. Explanations here are obvious: sales can finally go back to traveling and kids are finally going back to school.

Again, those in service over-index feeling “neutral” about a return to normal. The pandemic has not been kind to those in that industry, and indicates that it will continue to not be, echoing reminders to tip your servers and be nice to everyone else.

Speaking of work in general, most people who are happy with their jobs feel very positive about life getting back to normal. But the margin is slimmer than you’d think. 

Employers take note: just because life has seemed to return to normal (and perhaps you’ve brought employees back to the office), doesn’t mean employees like their jobs any better. 

Will Life Ever Go Back To Normal for Some?

For those of the Gen Pop whose lives haven’t returned to normal, close to a quarter of them are pretty sure that eventually things will get there. 

When we cross that against experienced mood, we again see some pretty unsurprising things:

Happy people are more likely to think lives will go back to normal, while those experiencing stress, worry, or sadness are less hopeful. Further, those who are very unhappy with their jobs are the most pessimistic about life returning to normal. 

The question is, does one sentiment cause the other, or is there some other relationship there?

But perhaps it is encouraging to see the youngest demographics feel the most optimistic about life eventually returning to normal.

This, however, is countered by perhaps the most surprising trend in Gen Pop perceptions about life getting back to normal: those with the highest household incomes whose lives haven’t returned back to normal by this point in the pandemic are as equally pessimistic as the lowest earners about it ever happening in the future. 

There are countless factors playing into sentiments surrounding the pandemic and its ongoing effect on society. Everyone has been affected differently, from changes in work, to home life, to personal life and all the emotional, mental, and physical demands that those changes require. 

While difficult to truly detail all those complex effects in 750 words at a time, CivicScience will continue to track the shift in these trends as the pandemic continues to impact day-to-day life.