Californians see soaring inflation, jobs, and the economy as the most pressing issues facing their state ahead of the June 7 primary election, according to a new survey by the non-profit Public Policy Institute of California.
The statewide survey, conducted May 12–22, found that 27 percent of Californians think inflation, jobs, and the economy are the state’s top issues, followed closely by housing costs and availability at 12 percent.
Homelessness and gas and oil prices follow closely behind at 11 percent and 7 percent respectively, while water, water availability, and drought were the top issue for 6 percent of those surveyed.
Meanwhile, thirty-seven percent of those surveyed say they are financially worse off today than they were a year ago. For lower-income residents, 53 percent say that rising prices are causing serious financial hardship, and 46 percent say their finances are worse now than they were in 2021.
The findings come as rising gas, food, and consumer goods prices have sent inflation to 40-year highs in the United States, leaving Americans feeling the squeeze.
The latest BMO Real Financial Progress Index published on Tuesday showed that consumers are switching to cheaper items and reducing food away from home in an effort to offset rising costs.
A total of 42 percent of 3,407 adults polled March 30–April 25 said they are changing how they shop for groceries, including opting for cheaper items, avoiding brand names, and buying only the essentials, while 46 percent are either dining out less or consciously spending less when dining out.
Meanwhile, the same survey found that one in four Americans said they are delaying retirement as a result of the increasing prices.
Another 31 percent are driving less to offset the soaring cost of gas, which is currently at a national average of $4.671, according to AAA, up from $3.045 a year ago.
Gas prices in the Golden state have reached record-breaking levels at $6.194 per gallon.
Prices at the pump surged further this week after the European Union agreed to block roughly 90 percent of Russian oil imports by the end of 2022 as part of the sixth package of sanctions against the Kremlin over its invasion of Ukraine.
On Tuesday, President Joe Biden met with Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell to discuss skyrocketing inflation across the country where he reiterated that his addressing the rising costs is his “top priority.”
The president also promised to “respect the Fed’s independence” and give them “the space they need to do their job.”
“My plan is to address inflation. It starts with a simple proposition: Respect the Fed and respect the Fed’s independence, which I have done and will continue to do,” Biden said.
“My job as President is not only [to] nominate highly qualified individuals for that institution, but to give them the space they need to do their job. I’m not going to interfere with their critically important work.”
Biden added that Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and other fed leaders have said that they have a “laser-focus on addressing inflation, just like I am.”
Fed policymakers agreed to hike interest rates by half a percentage point at the May 3–4 policy meeting in an effort to combat high inflation, which is currently running at four times more than the central bank’s 2 percent target.