Middle-Class Americans Are Feeling the Pain of Inflation Everywhere

By Suzanne Woolley

Inflation is worrying middle-income Americans, with 49% choosing the threat of rising prices as the largest economic challenge facing the U.S. in 2022, according to a Primerica survey.

Some 68% of people surveyed said their income is falling behind the cost of living, and slightly less expect their economic prospects to be worse (28%) or the same (38%) this year. Primerica’s U.S. Middle-Income Financial Security Monitor polled 925 adults who earned between $30,000 and $100,000 in 2020.

A customer shops for groceries at a store in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021. U.S. consumer prices rose last month at the fastest annual pace since 1990, cementing high inflation as a hallmark of the pandemic recovery and eroding spending power even as wages surge.

Inflation seemed to be everywhere respondents turned. People noticed rising costs the most on groceries and gas (about 90%), as well as on local home prices (87%), restaurants and bars (80%), new or used cars (81%), health care (74%), taxes (72%), entertainment (66%), rent (60%) and child care (44%).

Also read: Investment Ideas for an Inflationary Era

Rising prices were the second-most common personal concern among respondents at 33%, following physical health at 38%. Worries about paying for groceries rose to 19%, up from 12% in a similar September 2020 survey.

In a separate survey by Quicken Inc., 71% of respondents ranked inflation among the top 3 issues causing them the most worry. It was followed by new Covid-19 variants, disruptions in the supply chain and a stock market crash. Two areas that tend to top worry lists — retirement and job security — fell to the bottom of the list of concerns.

In the Primerica survey, nearly 90% of those polled expect the prices of household items to continue to increase. Housing prices are also expected to keep rising (78%) — great for those who own homes, but not great for those who want to buy. Only 18% expect Covid-19 to gradually disappear, with 82% predicting that variants would continue to develop and spread. 

As for the stock market, when the survey was taken in December 2021 24% of respondents thought the stock market would rise this year, 50% figured it would stay about the same, and 26% expected it to crash. 

More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com

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