As stubbornly high prices continue to rattle the U.S. economy, most Americans now view inflation as by far the biggest issue facing the country, according to a new survey of more than 5,000 adults conducted by Pew Research.
The data revealed that seven in ten respondents feel that inflation is “a very big problem” for the nation, followed by 55 percent saying the same for health care affordability, 54 percent for violent crime, and 51 percent for both gun violence and the federal budget deficit. The responses were found to vary by political affiliation as well, with 84 percent of Republicans and right-leaning independents saying inflation is the top issue. On the flip side, 57 percent of Democrats and left-leaning independents shared similar sentiments.
One of the surprising findings was how much the COVID-19 pandemic dropped on the list. “More than two years into the coronavirus pandemic, just 19% of Americans rate the coronavirus outbreak as a very big problem for the country, the lowest share out of 12 issues included in the survey,” Pew wrote. “In June 2020, in the early stages of the outbreak, 58% rated it as a very big problem, placing it among the top concerns at the time,” it continued.
Unemployment has also receded as a major problem. The poll showed that just 23 percent of Americans rate unemployment as a very big problem, down from 41 percent a year ago and 50 percent in June 2020. The poll’s release comes as the consumer price index (CPI) was found to have jumped 8.3 percent in April year-over-year, falling slightly from 8.5 percent in March, which was the highest since 1981, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. On a monthly basis, prices climbed 0.3 percent from March to April.
In a bit of good news, energy prices declined 2.7 percent for the month, including a 6.1 percent drop for gasoline. The food index, however, climbed 0.9 percent. On an annual basis, energy costs are up 30.3 percent, while food has risen 9.4 percent. Meanwhile, the shelter index—which comprises about a third of the CPI weighting—headed higher by another 0.5 percent over the past month and is up 5.1 percent on a yearly basis, the fastest rate seen since April 1991.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Finance and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.