Only the 15 percent annual average for 2008 was lower than this year's in the 32-year history of the question in the Gallup poll, Gallup said Thursday.
For December, the Gallup poll found only 15 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with "the way things are going in the United States at this time," up from 11 percent in August and September and well short of the year's high, 26 percent in May, after the U.S. military found and killed Osama bin Laden.
The 11 percent August and September ratings fell just 4 percentage points above the all-time low single-month's of 7 percent in October 2008, amid the financial crisis and after passage of the Troubled Asset Relief Program financial bailout legislation and a major decline in stock values.
Satisfaction has averaged as high as 60 percent, in 1986, 1998, and 2000.
The low December and annual 2011 satisfaction ratings come as a majority of Americans express concerns about economic woes.
In the December poll, more than 64 percent mentioned the economy in general as the most important problem facing the nation; 25 percent named unemployment; 16 percent, dissatisfaction with government and elected officials; 12 percent, the federal budget deficit; and 6 percent, moral and ethical decline.
Results for the December poll are based on telephone interviews of 1,019 adults conducted Dec. 15-18. The margin of error is 4 percentage points.