What are the major concerns of Americans today?
In Gallup’s latest poll, more Americans name the government as the nation’s top problem, which encompassed the rocky start of the 118th Congress’ term. With high prices persisting, inflation remains the second most-cited problem (15%), and amid elevated tensions about the southern U.S. border, illegal immigration increased to 11%. Mentions of the economy, in general, fell six points to 10%, the lowest reading in a year. See this in the chart below.
The government ranks interestingly enough as the top problem for both Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (24%) and Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (18%). Inflation and immigration are each cited by 18% of Republicans, while mentions of inflation (11%), the economy in general, and race relations (9% each) trail the government among Democrats. Democrats are more likely than Republicans to view unifying the country and the environment as top problems. See this in the chart below.
The resulting Economic Confidence Index, which summarizes responses to the current conditions and economic outlook items, has a theoretical range of +100 (if all respondents say the economy is excellent or good and that it is getting better) to -100 (if all say it is poor and getting worse). The latest -39 reading is identical to last month but well above the -58 score last June amid high gas prices and the record low of -72 in October 2008, during the Great Recession. The ECI has been in negative territory since July 2021, when the U.S. inflation rate was on the rise. See this in the chart below.
Meanwhile, according to Bankrate’s Annual Emergency Fund Report, 68% of people are worried they wouldn’t be able to cover their living expenses for just one month if they lost their primary source of income. And when push comes to shove, the majority (57%) of U.S. adults are currently unable to afford a $1,000 emergency expense. When broken down by generation, Gen Zers (85%) and Millennials (79%) are more likely to be worried about covering an emergency expense.
When asked, “If you lost a primary source of income tomorrow, how worried would you be about having enough emergency savings to cover your immediate living expenses over the next month?” See the responses below in the chart and learn more here.
The growing concerns of an impending recession have significant implications for the middle class in America. Job loss, reduction in income, the rising cost of living, and a decrease in savings are just a few of the effects that the middle class is facing. It will be important for policymakers to take the necessary steps to mitigate the financial impact of a recession on the middle class and to support their recovery in the long term.
However, the Biden administration is not making the economy a top priority, rather their focus is on fighting foreign wars and amplifying the ongoing culture war issues. Hence, one can understand that many conservatives worry about the decay of a functioning government that is not well-positioned to handle these upcoming issues.
Folks will need to be reminded of this as we move into the 2024 political season.
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By Bekah Lyons