Gallup: Economic Concerns Hit Pandemic High

Gallup: Economic Concerns Hit Pandemic High man sitting at table looking at papers (Dreamstime)

By Fran Beyer | Monday, 22 November 2021 12:57 PM

Americans' concern about the economy reached a COVID-19 pandemic high this month, a new Gallup survey has found.

According to Gallup, 26% of Americans cite an economic concern — inflation, unemployment, or the economy in general — as the top problem.

Gallup found 10% of those polled said the economy in general is the top problem in the United States, 7% cited the high cost of living/inflation, and 5% said it was unemployment/jobs.

Concerns over the federal budget deficit/federal budget, the gap between rich and poor, wage issues, fuel/oil prices, and lack of money each received 1% in the poll.

Gallup reported the last time inflation was named as the most important problem by 7% of Americans was in April 2001; the last time mentions of inflation were significantly higher than now was in May 1985 when it registered 11%.

The rising economic concern is relatively low in Gallup's historical trend dating back to 1991; its high point was 86% in February 2009.

The poll finds that 30% of Republicans and 29% of independents are likely to raise an economic concern when asked to name the most important problem, while 18% of Democrats did so.

In recent months, the percentage naming the economy in general terms and inflation, specifically, have crept up, Gallup noted. In both September and October, 6% of Americans said the economy in general was the most important problem. Before now, the percentage had not been in double digits since January 2017.

While the 7% of Americans citing inflation as the most important problem facing the country is similar to the 5% who did so last month, it is significantly higher than the 1% who named it in September. Gallup noted the Labor Department earlier this month reported a 30-year high in the inflation rate.

"The fact that Americans rate the economy negatively overall suggests that the weaker aspects of it — inflation and shortages — are weighing more heavily in their evaluations than the positive aspects are," Gallup’s Jeffrey Jones wrote.

"As such, Biden's ability to improve his economic and overall job approval ratings appear to be tied to his ability to address inflation and shortages, if the stronger parts of the economy can remain that way."

The telephone survey of 815 adults Nov. 1-16 has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.