- 61% say recent price increases have caused financial hardship, up from 55%
- 15% say hardship is severe; 46% say moderate
- More mention inflation as most important financial problem than any other
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Three in five Americans, 61%, say recent price increases have caused financial hardship for their household, marking a six-percentage-point increase from the last reading in November 2022 and the highest since 2021 when Gallup first tracked this measure.
A relatively steady 15% of U.S. adults say the hardship created by inflation is “severe” and affects their ability to maintain their current standard of living, while 46% say it is “moderate” but does not jeopardize their standard of living.
In November 2021, 45% of U.S. adults indicated they were experiencing financial hardship due to rising prices, and two months later, at the beginning of 2022, hardship was up slightly to 49%. The U.S. inflation rate increased in the following months and eventually hit a 40-year high of 9.1% in June 2022. The share of Americans saying inflation was a source of hardship in their lives subsequently grew to 56% in August and remained steady in November.
The current high in U.S. adults’ views of rising prices as a moderate or severe hardship, from an April 3-17 nationally representative web survey using Gallup's probability-based panel, comes even as the inflation rate hit its lowest point in about two years. This may suggest that the cumulative effects of high prices over the past two years have taken a toll on consumers.
The 15% of Americans who rate the hardship as severe is statistically similar to the prior two readings and has not varied greatly since the first reading.
As has been the case for the past two years, lower-income Americans report greater hardship from inflation than those in higher income brackets. Three-quarters of U.S. adults with an annual household income under $40,000 currently say rising prices are causing them at least moderate hardship, including 29% who say it is severe. Meanwhile, 65% of middle-income adults consider inflation to be a hardship, with 15% saying it is severe. At the same time, less than half of upper-income adults, 45%, say price increases have created hardship for them.
Inflation Far Outpaces Americans’ Other Personal Financial Problems
A separate Gallup poll, conducted by telephone April 3-25, finds inflation is by far the top trouble mentioned when Americans are asked to name the most important financial problem facing their family. The cost of owning or renting a home (11%) ranks a distant second to inflation, while having too much debt (9%) and a lack of money or low wages (7%) follow close behind. Energy costs, which was second to inflation last year amid high gas prices, has dropped to 5% as gas prices have fallen.
The latest 35% of U.S. adults naming inflation as their family’s top financial problem supplants last year’s 32% as the highest on record in Gallup’s 19-year trend. The previous high for mentions of inflation was 18% in 2008.
Inflation is the top financial problem named among all demographic groups.
Even as inflation has been cooling, the effect of continued high prices has broadened the financial pain Americans are feeling. A record-high 61% of Americans say rising prices are causing hardship for their household, and inflation remains their top financial problem, with more than three times as many mentions as any other problem. The increases in these readings suggest that the recent slowing of inflation has so far done little to provide relief for Americans, and it may take more dramatic changes in prices for the harmful effects of inflation to subside. The public lacks confidence in economic leaders to tackle the problem.
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