The new year entered with a string of difficult events. Mass shootings in California led to escalating concerns about gun violence, natural disasters struck across the country, and several high-profile police brutality cases received national coverage, including the death of Tyre Nichols. The latter was an especially unwelcome banner into Black History Month.

In addition, CivicScience reported several drops in economic sentiment recently. Confidence in finding a new job, in the U.S. economy, and in personal finances all fell in the past two weeks. 

However, overall emotional well-being has largely been resilient. Well-being in U.S. adults reached the highest monthly average of 2022 in December at 56.8%, falling only to 56.7% in January. As of the first week of February, well-being is back up to 56.8%. 

That said, not all Americans are reporting feelings of stress, happiness, and other emotions measured by the Well-Being Index in the same way. Black, Hispanic, and White U.S. adults saw ups and downs in well-being throughout January. Into February, weekly well-being averages increased in White and Hispanic adults, but fell 1.4 percentage points for Black U.S. adults (from 56.2% to 54.8%).

Looking at individual emotional markers shows that Black U.S. adults experienced a spike in reported stress levels in the second half of January, and an increase in fear and decrease in happiness heading into this month. 

This could be due to the aforementioned events as well as the perception of the future. For example, studies show natural disasters disproportionately harm people of color and of lower socioeconomic statuses. And while the general population reported a significant decrease in trust in law enforcement after the Tyre Nichols case broke, Black Americans reported having significantly less trust. CivicScience data show 55% of Black Americans and 70% of White Americans stated that they trust the police, whereas 45% of Black Americans and 30% of White Americans stated the opposite. 

Check back next month to gain further insight into how the social climate affects emotional well-being in adults across the United States. 

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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.