Two-thirds unhappy with income distribution, Gallup poll finds

As debate in Washington turns increasingly to the issue of income inequality, Gallup's annual “Mood of the Nation” survey finds that two-thirds of Americans are dissatisfied with the current distribution of income and wealth in the U.S.

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When asked how satisfied they were with the “the way income and wealth are distributed in the U.S.,” 67 percent of respondents said they were dissatisfied, while 39 percent described themselves as very dissatisfied. In contrast, only 32 percent were content with America's wealth distribution, and a scant 7 percent described themselves as very satisfied.

While there is a sizable gap in sentiments on the issue, the unhappiness still cuts across partisan lines. Seventy-five percent of Democrats and 54 percent of Republicans were somewhat or very dissatisfied with income and wealth distribution.

Poll respondents remained pessimistic on their ability to get ahead through hard work. Fifty-four percent were satisfied with Americans' ability “to get ahead by working hard,” while 45 percent were dissatisfied. These numbers have remained largely constant over the last four years, and are a major drop from 2001-2008, when ever year at least two-thirds expressed confidence in hard work paying off.

Inequality has become a notable political issue in the last month, as the parties have sparred over extending long-term unemployment benefits and increasing the minimum wage. President Obama is expected to devote significant attention to the issue in his State of the Union address next week.

The poll was conducted from Jan. 5-8 and had a sample size of 1,018 adults. The margin of error was +/- 4 percentage points.