Indeed, the impact of inflation may go beyond the direct pressure on Americans’ pockets, to a greater feeling that it is stifling opportunities in America, and to a deeper sense that the economic problems the country has faced in recent years have been, as a whole, more difficult than other problems it has faced. In generations.
So, even with strong jobs reports and economists talking about a “soft landing,” people say they still pay more attention to their own experiences than to macroeconomic measures — and a significant number say their incomes are not keeping up.
More people today say their standard of living is worse, not better, than their parents were, and these age groups include many Millennials and Gen The traditional American dream.
It has been four decades since Americans have seen inflation as they have in recent years. When Americans are asked to put current problems in context, they say the economic hardships caused by the pandemic have been the worst in two generations, more so than the collapse and Great Recession of 2008-2009, and other recessions in the 1990s and 1980s. And more like inflation and gas shortages in the 1970s.
Today will certainly be more fresh in the mind and will bring some effects of modernity here, but it underscores the fact that many adults have never experienced this type of inflation before. (For those over 65 who were adults in the 1970s, the country’s recent difficulties also stand out.)
The “separation” between the micro and the macro?
For months, the country’s traditional “macro” numbers such as job growth, employment, GDP and even the inflation rate have often shown signs of strength or improvement.
So, we asked them directly what they care about – and people say they pay more attention to personal experience than this economic personality type.
The labor market may be strong, but three-quarters of them feel that their incomes are not keeping up with inflation.
There is a widespread feeling that opportunities are only increasing for the wealthy, not the middle class. In general, Americans have expressed skepticism about unequal opportunity for a while, but today the larger idea that “everyone has a chance to get ahead” has taken a backseat compared to before the pandemic.
So what can we do?
Further rate hikes are not a widely popular idea to control inflation – they are not particularly popular with people in the lowest income bracket.
Americans also do not want to see unemployment rates rise (perhaps as a result of higher interest rates) if it means curbing inflation.
Back in the late 1970s, when the country was facing high inflation rates, a CBS News poll asked about this and the idea of government price controls. So we asked a similar question now, and found that most would support the (very hypothetical) idea.
Support for price controls includes large numbers of Democrats, and although the party may be associated with a freer-market approach in the public’s mind, more than half of Republicans also support it.
What does this mean for the White House?
Most Americans believe that Pres Can Control inflation.
In some context, and on somewhat similar questions from the 1970s and 1980s, many thought so at that time as well. Given the complexity of the global economy – and that people are aware of multiple causes of inflation – they may or may not make accurate readings of the bureau’s strength. But either way, as long as inflation is high, this may be one reason why President Biden continues to get bad marks for his handling of the matter.
People do not blame themselves for inflation, which comes in the form of “high consumer demand.” Its main reasons point to factors further afield, to international factors, suspicions of corporate overcharging, and government spending.
Inflation remains the main reason why people feel the economy is bad, when they do. Views on the economy overall remain broadly negative (although much of that is also driven by partisanship) and are closer again to where they were in the spring than they were this fall. The pattern this year has been a number that says “bad” that moves into the mid to mid 60s. Perhaps it reflects some ongoing uncertainty about its overall outlook.
Mr. Biden continues to receive widespread disapproval for his handling of inflation, and Americans remain more inclined to believe that his administration’s actions led to its growth, not its slowdown.
The Biden administration often touts its legislative record on the economy, but Americans’ assessments of things like the Build Back Better Act and the Inflation Reduction Act are mixed. Many, including members of the president’s party, say they haven’t heard enough about them, at least not by name.
This CBS News/YouGov poll was conducted with a nationally representative sample of 2,144 adult U.S. residents interviewed December 6-8, 2023. The sample was weighted for sex, age, race, and education based on the U.S. Census Community Survey American and Current Population Survey, as well as past voting. The margin of error is ±2.8 points.
In the CBS News survey referenced in 1979 and 2017, participants were interviewed by telephone using RDD sampling. The most important issue from 1979 at that time was coded through open-ended responses.
“Amateur organizer. Wannabe beer evangelist. General web fan. Certified internet ninja. Avid reader.”