By Michael Muskal, Los Angeles Times –
LOS ANGELES — Break out the New Year’s bubbly because a new poll shows that almost two-thirds of Americans believe that 2012 will be a better year than the one now ending.
The Associated Press-GfK poll also found that 68 percent of Americans described 2011 as a poor year and only 29 percent said it was good.
For many, 2011 was a year of continuing economic crisis. Jobs openings remained scarce and many once-secure professions such as education and public employment saw changes as states and cities tightened their fiscal belts. Prices for basic necessities such as health care, food and fuel rose throughout the year, squeezing even people who were able to keep working.
According to the poll, 62 percent of Americans said they were optimistic about what 2012 will bring the nation, and 78 percent said they were upbeat about the year’s potential impact on their immediate family.
About 37 percent said they see economic improvement in the next 12 months, compared with 24 percent who think the economy will worsen. On a personal level, 36 percent said they think their financial situation will improve; 11 percent said they think it will worsen.
Democrats were more likely to view 2011 more favorably than independents and Republicans, according to the poll.
The poll was conducted Dec. 8-12 by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Corporate Communications. It involved calls to 1,000 adults and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
The upbeat note caught by the poll could be considered especially positive in light of Census Bureau data released Thursday showing that more people will be around to enjoy the new year. The U.S. population is projected to increase by one person every 17 seconds next year.
According to the Census Bureau, when the ball drops in Times Square, the U.S. population is projected to be 312,780,968, an increase of 0.7 percent from New Year’s 2011.
In January 2012, one birth is expected to occur every eight seconds in the United States and one death every 12 seconds. Net international migration is expected to add one person to the U.S. population every 46 seconds in January 2012.