By Andrew Keshner
Americans are feeling inflation’s squeeze.
Nearly half — 45% — of people say inflation’s rising prices have caused them financial hardship, according to a new Gallup poll released Thursday.
In that swath of people, 10% say the financial hardship is severe as they watch the prices rise on everything from food prices to rent. A severe hardship jeopardizes a person’s capacity to keep up their current standard of living, according to the nearly 1,600-person survey conducted earlier this month.
That’s especially bad news for low-income families, who face less budgeting room and more stress with upward creeping costs. And it’s all happening as the holiday season rolls in and winter heating costs loom, Gallup noted.
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Low-income survey participants were most likely to feel inflation’s pinch, the poll shows. More than two-thirds (71%) of people making less than $40,000 a year said inflation was causing them financial hardship and 28% said the problem was severe.
By contrast, 47% of households making between $40,000 and $99,000 said inflation was causing them hardship and most of them said the problems were moderate. Roughly a quarter of people (28%) making above $100,000 said they were facing inflation woes and it was mostly moderate.
Does politics influence people’s perception of inflation?
In a potential sign of the ways politics color the view of the economy and government regulation, Democrats in the Gallup poll were less likely to say they were experiencing hardship from inflation, compared to Republicans and independents.
Fewer than half (37%) of Democrats said they were experiencing financial hardship due to inflation while 49% of independents, while 53% of Republicans said the same.
People in the three groups said inflation was posing a “severe” hardship for them at roughly similar rates, the pollsters noted. It was 11% for Republicans and independents and 8% for Democrats.
President Joe Biden, a Democrat, has said he’s fighting inflation and doing what he can to bring down everyday costs. One step, he says, is releasing 50 million barrels of oil from the country’s stockpile in an effort to lower commuters’ gas costs.
Around the time Gallup researchers were gauging public opinion, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said the pace of inflation hit a 31-year high in October.
It’s “probably a good time” to end calling inflation “transitory,” Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told lawmakers this week. Powell said he’s retiring the word in order to speak more clearly about price increases and how long they’ll be rising.