Most Americans are dissatisfied with the economy and with policymakers in Washington, but a certain amount of mild optimism started to emerge late last year, a new Gallup survey said.

The number of Americans who are content with the way things are going rose to 22% in the most recent survey of more than 1,000 citizens. That's the highest it's been since last spring.

About 13% of respondents were satisfied with the state of the nation when President Barack Obama took office in January 2009. That percentage rose to 36% in August 2009 before dropping as low as 11% last August and September.

The latest increase in optimism is likely tied to mildly positive economic news that hit over the course of the past two months, the report said. 

Across political lines, satisfaction levels differ somewhat. About one-fifth of independent voters are satisfied with the economy, while 37% of Democrats and 10% of Republicans are satisfied.

Still, Americans name the economy as their top concern, with 71% of those interviewed listing the state of the economy as the most important national problem, up from 66% in January. Unemployment also was listed as a top concern.