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Study: 7 in 10 Americans Say Inflation Is Negatively Impacting Their Lifestyle
Driven by rising prices in gas and housing as well as supply shortages, this past year saw inflation in the U.S. rise to a record 8.5% (as of March 2022). Unsurprisingly, inflation has a real impact on daily life, with prices of everything from pantry essentials to homes outpacing income. Already, many Americans are feeling the weight of growing inflation, even after they’ve saved and budgeted.
We recently surveyed more than 1,000 Americans and gained insight into how inflation has impacted their lives and how well they could judge where prices are rising the most.
- 7 in 10 say inflation has negatively impacted their lifestyle, and nearly 70% are not buying things because of inflation.
- About half say that inflation has impacted their ability to purchase everyday items and pay bills; almost one-third are having trouble making rent or mortgage payments.
- Of those who are currently employed and don’t expect a pay increase this year, nearly half will consider quitting if their earnings aren’t increased to counterbalance inflation.
The majority of Americans are feeling the squeeze of inflation, with 7 in 10 respondents saying that it has negatively impacted their lifestyle. About half report that their ability to purchase basic items (52%) and pay bills (49%) has become compromised. Almost a third of respondents (29%) have had trouble making rent or paying their mortgages.
Inflation is causing many people to put off everyday purchases. Many respondents have cut everyday spending in categories such as dining out (44%), clothing (34%), and meat (26%).
Of course, the ability to make major purchases has suffered as well, with 30% avoiding travel and another 24% putting off electronics such as computers and TVs.
Inflation creates a more critical impact than just canceled travel plans. Nearly 1 in 5 (16%) of responders have put off medical treatments because of rising costs, and 14% are forgoing medicine purchases to stay afloat.
With these things in mind, it comes as no surprise that almost 70% of respondents are worried more about inflation now than just six months ago. For many, the cause of the surge in inflation comes from two sources. Over 40% blame the pandemic, and another 33% blame the current presidential administration.
Although average pay rose 4.7% in 2021, higher consumer prices caused average real earnings to decrease. In short, people are making more money, but their dollar isn’t going as far. Our survey respondents recognized this strain and said that businesses should do more for employees to offset the impact of inflation.
The majority of respondents (70%) say employers should give their employees a raise to account for inflation. Unfortunately, of those who are employed, nearly 2 in 5 said they expect their salaries to stay the same this year. To counterbalance inflation, almost 60% of respondents have considered getting or have already gotten a second job or gig work.
A lack of salary increases proportional to inflation may be the final straw for many. Nearly half of respondents (47%) admitted that they will quit or consider quitting their jobs if they don’t receive a salary bump.
We wanted to understand where Americans are most seeing the effects of inflation, so we asked them to pinpoint the price increase of everyday items such as food and alcohol. Then we compared their answers to data from the Consumer Price Index and FRED.
Interestingly, many consumers underestimated the rise in gas prices, which surged 40% between January 2021 and January 2022. Nearly 7 in 10 said gas prices rose less than 40%.
Likewise, meat prices rose more than 13% over the same period, but almost two-thirds of respondents believed the increase to be less. With meat purchases down as a whole over the past year, perhaps fewer eyes were noticing the steady price increase.
As grim as it sounds, we as individuals can do little to combat inflation. Sound finances and spending cuts may help, but in the face of inflation, many may find their money reserves coming up short.
Over half of respondents (56%) have seen a negative impact on their household debts as a result of inflation, and 25% are expecting to take out a loan to counterbalance inflation within the next year. Of those planning on a loan, nearly 2 in 5 (36%) expect to need between $5,000 and $9,999.
More than just a buzzword or partisan talking point, inflation impacts lives every day. To lessen the impact of inflation, you can stay alert and be prepared. Seek out professional financial advice if you can or check out OppU’s Money Guide to find expenses you can trim down.
Most importantly, don’t just wait for conditions to change. As the summer heats up, do what you can to keep your finances strong. Start budgeting and saving now and create that financial safety net that can help protect you during times of inflation or uncertainty.
Methodology: OppLoans commissioned an online survey using SurveyMonkey to interview 1,097 Americans about their experience with inflation. The survey began on March 4, 2022, and concluded on March 5, 2022; 50% of respondents were male and 50% were female; 24% were 18–29, 27% were 30–44, 27% were 45–60, and 22% were older than 60. Each of the four census regions was equally represented.