A recent survey by Gallup discovered that inflation has become the top financial concern for Americans, surpassing other issues like low wages and housing costs.
While this result may not be too surprising, Visual Capitalist's Marcus Lu notes that it is interesting to see how today’s concerns compare to that of previous years. For reference, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) has grown 8.3% between April 2021 and April 2022, representing a near 40-year high.
Results were collected in April 2022 and are based on the responses of over 1,000 U.S. adults. In this case, the specific question was: What is the most important financial problem facing your family today?
Percentage of respondents. Includes the top five categories, based on April 2022 results.
Based on these results, we can see that inflation began to gain momentum in early 2021. Rising gas prices, which are a significant contributor to overall inflation, also popped up in 2021.
Significantly fewer Americans feel confident about their financial situation due to the rising cost of living. This was captured in the same Gallup survey referenced above.
Percentage of respondents who say their personal financial situation is improving.
The largest decreases were seen among the upper and lower income groups.
Upper income families tend to own more financial assets like stocks and bonds. An inflationary environment, especially when combined with rising interest rates, can eat away at the returns generated by these assets, which could explain this cohort’s drop in optimism.
Lower income families, on the other hand, are more likely to be struggling already. In fact, a 2017 report found that six in 10 Americans don’t have $500 in savings. With this in mind, it’s easy to see how an increase in the price of food or gas could cause worry.