By Casey Harper, The Center Square
(The Center Square) – A majority of Americans say they are not better off financially than they were a year ago, according to a new poll.
Gallup released the polling data Thursday showing that only 41% of Americans say they are financially better off than they were a year ago, when President Joe Biden took office.
“That is up slightly from 35% in January 2021 but still well below the record-high 59% reporting they were better off in January 2020, right before the start of the coronavirus pandemic,” Gallup said.
The poll also found the same percentage of Americans, 41%, say they are worse off financially with the rest remaining the same. Last year, only 36% of Americans said they were worse off financially.
“Americans’ pandemic-era doubts that they are advancing financially contrast with the prior six years, from 2015 to 2020, when significantly more said they were better rather than worse off,” Gallup said. “Today’s sentiment is similar to what Gallup found in 2013 and 2014, and in the early 2000s, when Americans were about evenly divided in these views.”
Gallup conducted the poll from Jan. 3 through Jan. 16 and pointed to price increases due to inflation as a factor in Americans’ financial hardships.
Gallup released polling last month showing that 79% of surveyed Americans “predict inflation will go up,” while 50% say it will go up “a lot.” According to Gallup, those are the most pessimistic surveys on inflation ever recorded by the pollster.
“In the past, Americans have always been more likely to say inflation will increase rather than decrease, but the current expectation is higher than usual – in fact, it is the highest Gallup has measured in its trend,” Gallup said. “The prior high was 76% in September 2005. In recent years, from 2007 through 2020, roughly six in 10 Americans have expected inflation to increase.”
That pessimism on inflation has been driven by months of rising inflation data. The personal consumer index, a key marker of inflation, saw a 5.8% increase in the previous 12 months, according to data released by the Department of Commerce last week. That increase is the highest in nearly 40 years, and other pricing markers suggest inflation could be even higher.
“The PCE price index for December increased 5.8 percent from one year ago, reflecting increases in both goods and services…” the Bureau of Economic Analysis said. “Energy prices increased 29.9 percent while food prices increased 5.7 percent. Excluding food and energy, the PCE price index for December increased 4.9 percent from one year ago.”
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