Americans are increasingly pessimistic about the economy, more worried about inflation – and now, more worried about the labor market as well.
Fifty-two percent of American adults say their financial situation is worse than a year ago, according to a survey conducted this month for The New York Times by online research platform Momentive. That was up from 41% in April, and was by far the highest share in the survey’s five years. Only 14% of Americans said they were better off than a year ago, the worst in the survey’s history.
The austere mood is also reflected in other surveys. The University of Michigan consumer confidence index hit its lowest level in 70 years this month. Another measure of consumer confidence, from the Conference Board, also fell, although less drastically.
There’s no mystery as to the cause of the bleak consumer outlook: prices rising at the fastest rate in a generation. More than nine in 10 Americans say they are concerned about inflation, according to the Momentive poll, including 70% who say they are “very concerned,” up from 63% in April.
Inflation has become a major political challenge for President Biden and congressional Democrats. Only 31% of Americans said they approved of Biden’s approach to inflation; support was muted even among Democrats, of whom only 58% said they approved of Mr Biden’s approach, and only 15% of them “strongly”.
Survey respondents also criticized the approach taken by the Federal Reserve, which began aggressively raising interest rates in an effort to reduce inflation. Only 30% of Americans said they approved of the Fed’s handling of the issue.
Until recently, concerns about inflation have been offset, at least to some extent, by the strength of the labor market, which has allowed workers to demand higher wages and better benefits. But there are clues that could change. In June, 47% of adults said they thought it was a good time to look for a job, up from 60% in April. And nearly half of those polled said they believed the US economy had entered a recession.
About the survey: Data for this article comes from an online survey of 5,342 adults conducted by polling company Momentive from June 13-19. The company randomly selected respondents from the more than two million people who complete surveys on its platform. daytime. Responses were weighted to match the demographic profile of the United States population. The survey has a modeled error estimate (similar to the margin of error in a standard telephone survey) of plus or minus 2 percentage points, so differences below this amount are statistically insignificant.