A new study Economist/YouGov study has provided a wider window into how America’s economic problems are affecting everyday people struggling to make ends meet amid surging prices on gas and other essential products. As you might imagine, the outlook is not pretty. The survey’s findings further exemplify why issues like the Jan. 6 hearings and abortion are not going to figure into the outcomes of the congressional elections in November, no matter how hard Democrats try to make these into winning issues.
For starters, the poll shows what Americans believe about the idea that the country is in a recession. After it was announced that the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) dropped for another quarter, the percentage of respondents who believe we are experiencing a recession rose to 61% from 57% in early July.
Also of note is what Americans believe is the best indicator of a recession. According to the survey, 51% believe the prices of goods and services are the prime indicator, while 21% chose the unemployment rates and jobs reports. Only a few respondents believed the stock market index (11%) or personal finances (5%) were the primary contributor. To put it simply, people are looking at their pocketbooks as indicators that the country is in a recession instead of GDP growth.
Inflation continues to be the dominant issue that people are concerned about. About 18% said “inflation/prices” was their “most important issue.” “Jobs and the economy “and “health care” took the second and third spots.
Even worse, 56% of Americans say that inflation has impacted their lives “a lot.” Folks with a family income of less than $50,000 indicated they have experienced the effects of inflation (61%).
But what is even more interesting – and troubling – is how inflation has affected normal aspects of people’s everyday lives. Allen Houston from YouGov wrote:
In order to save money, many Americans this year have put off buying clothing or personal items (48%), going on a vacation or taking time off (46%), doing home repairs or maintenance (34%), doing car repairs or maintenance (25%) and/or receiving medical care (22%). Only one in five (22%) have not put off buying any of these things.
Majorities of Americans have had at least a “somewhat difficult” time paying for gas (65%), food (58%), and housing (53%), with nearly as many affected by car payments (47%).
Nearly half of Americans (48%) say their own family’s economic situation is worse than it was a year ago. About three in five Americans this week (61%) view the economy as “getting worse,” a viewpoint that a majority of Americans have held in recent months.
While the jobless claims numbers were promising at one time, they appear to be starting an upward trajectory. RedState’s Joe Cunningham noted that “[m]ore Americans are filing jobless claims, according to the Labor Department. Claims as of July 30 rose by 6,000 to 260,000 from the previous week’s 254,000.”
He also noted that “the number of job openings in the country fell to its lowest number since September 2021. The latest survey shows openings fell to about 10.7 million through the last day of June, a decline of 605,000 or 5.4%.”
These findings do not exactly paint a promising picture of America’s economic condition. The fact of the matter is that Americans are suffering, and it has become harder for many to make ends meet. The fact that President Joe Biden and his merry band of Democrats in Congress have come up with few solutions only makes the situation even more ominous. Even if Republicans take back control of both chambers of the legislature, it will be hard for them to address the matter with Biden in the White House.
There is the chance that the economy will eventually bounce back on its own; the government does not have full control over its fluctuations. But when the people steering the ship have no answers, it is difficult to imagine that things will get better anytime soon.