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Inflation Causing Hardship for 45% of U.S. Households

Inflation Causing Hardship for 45% of U.S. Households

Story Highlights

  • 45% of Americans report financial hardship triggered by increased prices
  • 10% describe the hardship as threatening their current standard of living
  • Seven in 10 lower-income Americans experiencing hardship

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As the peak of holiday shopping approaches and winter temperatures drive up heating costs across the U.S., 45% of American households report that recent price increases are causing their family some degree of financial hardship. Ten percent describe it as severe hardship affecting their standard of living, while another 35% say the hardship is moderate.

Effect of Recent Price Increases on U.S. Adults' Finances
Have recent price increases caused any financial hardship for you or your household? (If yes: Is that a severe hardship that affects your ability to maintain your current standard of living, or is it a moderate hardship that affects you somewhat but does not jeopardize your current standard of living?)
Severe hardship Moderate hardship Total hardship No hardship
% % % %
U.S. adults 10 35 45 54
Household income
Less than $40,000 28 42 71 29
$40,000 to $99,999 8 38 47 53
$100,000 or more 2 26 29 71
No college degree 13 40 54 46
College degree 4 26 30 70
Party ID
Republicans 11 42 53 47
Independents 11 37 49 51
Democrats 8 28 37 63
Nov. 3-16, 2021

Sums for "Total hardship" percentages may show differences due to rounding.

These results are from Gallup's Nov. 3-16 probability-based web panel survey.

Lower-Income, Less Educated Americans Most Affected

Lower-income households are most likely to have experienced financial hardship due to price increases. Seventy-one percent of those living in households making less than $40,000 a year say that recent price hikes have caused their family financial hardship. That compares with 47% of those in middle-income households and 29% in upper-income households.

Moreover, 28% of lower-income Americans describe the hardship they are experiencing as severe and affecting their ability to maintain their current standard of living.

While the majority of U.S. adults without a college degree (54%) describe price increases as causing financial hardship for themselves or their family, 30% of those with a college degree say they have experienced the same.

There are modest differences in inflation-related hardship along partisan lines, with Democrats (37%) less likely than Republicans (53%) or independents (49%) to say they have experienced it. However, similar percentages of Democrats (8%), Republicans (11%) and independents (11%) say they are facing severe financial hardship because of higher prices.

Bottom Line

As Americans sail into peak holiday shopping season and winter temperatures bring bigger heating bills to much of the country, nearly half of U.S. adults already report that price increases are causing them financial hardship. For most, the problem is not a crisis -- but lower-income households are feeling the impact more than others, with nearly three in 10 saying the hardship is severe enough that it is affecting their current standard of living.

Rising prices are expected to persist, meaning more Americans are likely to report hardship and those most vulnerable are likely to see things get worse before they improve.

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