Half of Americans Suffering From Inflation, Poll Finds

By Ashok Ramprasad | December 5, 2021
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USDA Choice beef is displayed for sale in a grocery store on November 11, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. U.S. consumer prices have increased solidly in the past few months on items such as food, rent, cars and other goods as inflation has risen to a level not seen in 30 years. The consumer-price index rose by 6.2 percent in October compared to one year ago.
USDA Choice beef is displayed for sale in a grocery store on November 11, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. U.S. consumer prices have increased solidly in the past few months on items such as food, rent, cars and other goods as inflation has risen to a level not seen in 30 years. The consumer-price index rose by 6.2 percent in October compared to one year ago. (Image: Mario Tama via Getty Images)

With the American economy experiencing the highest inflation in over three decades, millions of households are feeling the pinch as the cost of food, rent, and a range of other goods and services have increased. 

A recent survey published by Gallup on Dec. 2 revealed that nearly half of U.S. households experienced financial hardship to a certain extent due to the recent spike in prices. The survey was conducted between Nov. 3 and 16, involving nearly 1,600 adults.

With the peak holiday season arriving and heating costs expected to rise due to winter, 45 percent of Americans reported that they have been impacted by inflation. 

Out of this, 35 percent said that the financial distress was moderate, while 10 percent said it was “severe,” implying that it hindered their ability to maintain a certain standard of living. Those who belong to the low-income group and individuals with lesser education were the most affected.

Households making less than $40,000 a year were the ones whose pockets were squeezed the most. Around 71 percent of the lower-income groups attributed their financial woes to the recent price hikes. 28 percent admitted the hardship they were facing as severe, making it difficult to maintain their current standard of living. 

On the other hand, 47 percent of middle-income households (earning between $40,000 and $99,000 a year) pointed to inflation as a reason for their difficulties. However, most of them felt the problems were tolerable. 29 percent of the higher-income groups, those raking in more than $100,000 a year, also faced problems from inflation. But, the effect of inflation was moderate overall.

Among adults without a college degree, 54 percent admitted that inflation was causing difficulties to them and their families. But only 30 percent with a college degree reported the same.

In a clear indication of the ways politics changes the perception of the economy and the government, Democrats were less inclined to admit that they suffered from inflation when compared to Republicans and independents.

53 percent of Republicans and 49 percent of independents admitted to having experienced some sort of challenge due to higher costs. When it came to the Democrats, it was just 37 percent. However, Gallup noted that the rates were almost similar among people in the three groups who said that the hardship brought about by inflation was “severe.” It was 8 percent for the Democrats and 11 percent for both independents and Republicans.

When inquired about what was at fault for the surge in prices, 80 percent of Americans laid the blame to some extent on COVID-19 while 57 percent said that “some” or “a great deal” of responsibility falls on President Joe Biden.

Inflation has become a political nightmare for Biden and his administration who have held large companies accountable for raising prices and making profits. As Americans step out of the pandemic ready to spend, prices have been surging for months. 

With inflation not expected to go away anytime soon and the spread of the Omicron variant, Jerome Powell, the Federal Reserve Chairman, said earlier this week that it was time to retire the word “transitory” with regard to inflation.