Americans think inflation is a big problem. In fact, in a new survey inflation was more often named as a big problem than longstanding issues like violent crime, healthcare affordability, climate change and racism.
With the cost of gas, groceries and other essentials rising at a record pace, a whopping 93% of Americans now say inflation is a “very big problem” or a "moderately big problem" in the United States. That’s more than any other category, according to a new poll of more than 5,000 adults conducted between April 25 and May 1 by the Pew Research Center.
Violent crime was second on the list of Americans’ most pressing concerns, with 88% of people describing that issue as a "very big" or "moderately big" problem. Healthcare affordability took the third spot (87%). Both climate change and racism were described as big problems by 69% of people in the survey.
Data released by the federal government showed that consumer prices in April were 8.3% higher than they were a year earlier. That’s slightly less than the 8.5% price growth (a 40-year high) recorded in March, but some categories are still seeing especially steep price increases.
Grocery prices rose 11% on an annual basis in April, for instance, and gasoline prices are nearly 50% more expensive than they were a year ago. Airfares jumped 18.6% in the last month alone, and are up 33% compared to April 2021.
Overall, the average household is spending an extra $312 per month to purchase the same goods it did last year — a “noticeable burden,” according to a recent Moody’s Analytics analysis.
How to lower inflation?
The Federal Reserve has already raised interest rates twice this year as part of its strategy to tamp down on rapid price growth.
“We understand that inflation is very painful,” Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said in an interview this week. “We have the tools and we have the … strong desire to get inflation under control.”
Powell said that the process of bringing inflation down will be painful, because raising interest rates makes it more expensive to borrow money and slows down spending. But it’s necessary to prevent even more suffering down the line.
“Ultimately the most painful thing would be if we were to fail to deal with it and inflation were to get entrenched in the economy at high levels,” Powell said. “We’d have to go through a much deeper downturn.”