Inflation and the economy top voters’ list of concerns ahead of the crucial midterm elections, as Americans increasingly prioritize wallet issues, according to a new ABC News/Ipsos poll.
According to the poll, 50% of registered voters identified economic issues as their most important issues, with 28% citing the economy and 22% pointing to searing inflation. Among Republicans, the percentage was even higher, with 73% citing one of the two as their top concern. Democrats, however, identified abortion rights as their No. 1 concern (29%), followed by the economy or inflation (28%).
The focus on the economy could sound alarm bells for Democrats, who are set to lose their majority in the House and possibly the Senate when voters head to the polls next week.
“At the end of the day, voters are feeling the pain, and economists are still debating whether we’re in a recession or not, which is kind of misleading,” said Tomas Philipson, an economist at the University of Chicago and former chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. told FOX Business on Monday. “What really matters is people’s real income – how much they can buy for their salary.”
THESE BUSINESS TITANS ARE SOUNDING THE ALARM ABOUT THE AMERICAN ECONOMY
Republicans have repeatedly criticized President Joe Biden and Democrats for policies they say exacerbated the inflation crisis, including a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package passed in March 2021 and, most recently, the broad forgiveness of billions in student loan debt.
The president blamed the price hike on greedy businesses, supply chain bottlenecks and other pandemic-induced disruptions to the economy, as well as Russia’s war in Ukraine. Most economists now agree that unprecedented levels of government stimulus and a stronger-than-expected recovery from the pandemic also played at least some role in worsening the price spike.
The White House also tried to find the silver lining in the current state of the US economy, pointing to record unemployment, positive economic growth in the third quarter and the slow deceleration in inflation.
“I think what drives another [tone] between how the White House talks about the economy,” Philipson said. “They want to talk about the quality of the labor market. It’s just not in sync with how voters feel. This kind of message from the White House, which is completely out of touch with what people are going through, is frustrating.”
U.S. RECESSION CHANCES RISE TO 100% AS INFLATION STRESSES ECONOMY
The government announced in October that the consumer price index, a broad measure of the price of everyday goods that includes gasoline, groceries and rents, rose 0.4% in September from compared to the previous month. Prices climbed 8.2% on an annual basis. These numbers were both higher than expected.
In an even more concerning development that suggests underlying inflationary pressures in the economy remain strong, underlying prices – which exclude the more volatile measures of food and energy – rose 0.6% in September from the previous month. Compared to the same period last year, core prices jumped 6.6%, the fastest since 1982.
High inflation has created severe financial pressures for most American households, which are forced to pay more for daily necessities like food and rent. The burden is borne disproportionately by low-income Americans, whose already-stretched paychecks are heavily affected by price swings.
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Adjusting for inflation, the average hourly wage of all employees actually fell 3% in September compared to the same month a year ago, taking into account the impact of rising prices to consumption. On a monthly basis, the average hourly wage fell 0.1% last month taking into account the surge in inflation.
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