Americans are increasingly concerned about rising inflation, which is at its highest level in almost 40 years, according to a new Gallup poll released on March 29.
The survey found that 17 percent of respondents named inflation as their top economic issue in March, rising from 10 percent in February and 8 percent in January.
Inflation was a nonissue for Americans throughout 2020 and hovered at 2 percent throughout 2021 until October of that year, when 5 percent cited it as their top concern.
Among respondents, 59 percent said they now worry “a great deal” about the cost of living, which is at levels not seen since 1985.
“Inflation doesn’t dominate Americans’ perceptions of the most important problem facing the country today the way it did in the early 1980s, but it’s more top-of-mind than it’s been in over three decades and appears to be taking a toll on Americans’ broader economic confidence,” Gallup reported.
Meanwhile, only 4 percent cited gas prices as their top concern, an increase from 1 percent in 2021, while the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus, was at the bottom of the list.
Concerns with gas prices are well below the historical high point of 25 percent from June 2008.
Among those polled, 58 percent said that they worry about the general economy a great deal.
“Together, these account for over half of the economic issues that 35 percent of Americans cite as the nation’s top problem. Within that group, 11 percent identify the economy in general as the chief problem,” Gallup said.
Regarding the more important problems facing the United States today, the differences of opinion widen depending on political groupings more than other demographics.
According to the poll, 79 percent of Republican respondents said they worry about inflation compared to only 35 percent of Democrats, while 63 percent of political independents are concerned about inflation, closer to the number of Republicans.
Americans are less divided over the issue according to income, with 63 percent of those making less than $40,000 concerned about inflation, while 58 percent of those making more than $100,000 feel the same way.
Meanwhile, only 32 percent said that they are concerned about unemployment.
The survey also measured public concern about 14 different non-economic domestic issues, by directly asking respondents to list each subject that they worry about the most.
Government policy and poor leadership were among the top non-economic issues for survey respondents, ranking at 22 percent, with 68 percent naming at least one non-economic issue as a chief problem.
The Biden administration’s handling of the Russia–Ukraine conflict trailed at 9 percent.
Only 3 percent still mention the CCP virus as the nation’s top problem, a massive drop from 13 percent in February and 20 percent in January, the lowest percentage since the start of the pandemic.
It had earlier fallen to 8 percent in June 2021, but rose again after the arrival of the Delta and Omicron variants.
The highest percentage of individuals concerned with the virus was 45 percent in April 2020, early in the pandemic.
A majority of those surveyed listed rising crime (53 percent) and homelessness (52 percent) as important issues, while just under half said they worry about access to health care (49 percent), federal spending (48 percent), and energy availability and affordability (47 percent).
Others said they are worried about matters such as the environment (44 percent), Social Security (40 percent), drug use (38 percent), and the possibility of a terrorist attack against the United States (38 percent).
Race relations and immigration barely garnered 5 percent of respondents who viewed them as their top domestic concern, but 41 percent mentioned them as important problems.
Americans said that they were more pessimistic about the economic future in March 2022, with 75 percent of respondents saying things will get worse, up from 70 percent in February and 67 percent in January.
The average outlook on the economy is the bleakest since the early days of the pandemic in April 2020.
Only 22 percent polled consider economic conditions “excellent” or “good,” while 35 percent deem them “only fair” and 44 percent said “poor,” according to Gallup.
The Gallup Economic Confidence Index registered at minus 39 in February 2022, the lowest score since the pandemic began.
The survey was conducted March 1 to 18 with 1,017 U.S. adults; the margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.