The proportion of Americans who say inflation is causing them financial difficulties has risen to 56 percent from 49 percent in January, with rising prices forcing 69 million homes to cut back, a poll showed on Wednesday.
The Gallup poll found that more affluent and middle-class families were feeling the effects of inflation, forcing them to spend less on groceries and other basic needs, drive less and cancel vacations.
A worrying 12 percent of the survey’s 1,570 respondents said they were experiencing “serious hardship” that lowered their standard of living — up from the 9 percent who said so in early 2022.
Though gas prices fell to $3.78 a gallon and inflation fell to 8.5 percent in July, the economy and rising prices remain the top concerns for millions of cash-strapped voters heading into November’s midterm elections.
“With high inflation persisting for over a year, a majority of Americans say they are experiencing financial difficulties because of higher prices,” the report said.
“Low-income Americans have been primarily affected from the start, but most middle-income Americans and a sizable minority of higher-income Americans are now feeling the strain of higher prices.”
Jesus Montiel, Krista Mason and their daughter Diana, 2, spend time together at their home in Afton, Wyoming, where inflation is making it increasingly difficult for working parents to manage a household
DailyMail.com has spoken to struggling Americans across the country, including retired Florida single homeowner Tim Erickson, whose $30,000-a-year pension is struggling to pay for high energy, gas and insurance prices.
“Unfortunately, I don’t have an easy way to increase my income, so I’m cutting back wherever I can,” said Erickson, from the coastal city of Melbourne.
“I parked the car most of the time and used my motorbike or bicycle for most daily errands. No more steak, no more food, only rarely red meat. Shopping at Aldi was my lifesaver.”
Poorer households are more likely than others to experience severe hardship – 26 percent of those whose annual household income is less than $48,000 say prices are seriously affecting their families.
This compares to 12 percent of middle-income Americans and 4 percent of the wealthy.
Accounts of financial hardship also differ by party affiliation. Republicans (67 percent) are far more likely than Democrats (44 percent) to say inflation has hurt their budgets — likely an effect of Democrats, who control the White House and Congress.
In response to rising prices, the cash-strapped are cutting back on travel, groceries, vacations, gas and restaurants, buying cheaper produce and even growing vegetables at home, according to Gallup.
Discount stores have boomed as shoppers hunted for bargains amid high inflation, including this August at this Family Dollar store in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood
Others have tried to earn more by working overtime, working a second job, or finding a new, better-paying job. Some even delayed medical procedures or appointments to make ends meet.
The survey echoes recent findings from researchers at Brandeis University, who found that more than a third of families do not earn enough to cover basic household expenses, even when they work full-time jobs year-round.
Around 35 percent of working families are unable to cover their weekly expenses for housing, food, medical care, transportation, childcare and other expenses, according to the study, based on 98,000 households.
The situation is worse for Hispanic and black families, the 29-page study added. More than half cannot afford basic needs, compared with a quarter of white families and 23 percent of Asian and Pacific Islander families.
Voters in recent polls named the economy, inflation, border security, gun violence and access to abortion as the issues most likely to be voted on in November’s midterm elections that will decide which party controls Congress.
In a Wall Street Journal poll this month, nearly two-thirds of registered voters said the economy was either “not good” or “bad,” and nearly two-thirds said the pain of higher costs made them more likely to do so , to choose a poll.
A KFF poll last month found that three-quarters of registered voters said inflation and gas prices were “very important” for their mid-term vote. Gun violence, access to abortion, and prescription drug costs were also major concerns.
The consumer price index, which measures the changing prices of a basket of consumer goods, rose 8.5 percent year-on-year in July – still worryingly high, but lower than the 40-year record of 9.1 percent set in June was set up.
Many more middle- and upper-income Americans are grappling with higher prices than last November
Respondents to the latest KFF and The Wall Street Journal polls named the economy and inflation as one of their priorities ahead of the midterm elections
A shopper holds groceries while waiting to check out at a grocery store in San Francisco, California, as inflation forces millions of households to forgo everyday essentials