Inflation dominates Americans’ worries about the economy

Linley SandersSenior Data Journalist
Taylor OrthSenior Survey Data Journalist
February 17, 2022, 8:53 PM GMT+0

As the U.S. inflation rate has reached a 40-year high, the latest Economist/YouGov Poll finds that many see prices as the best indicator of how the economy is doing. Americans expect that inflation won’t stop being a problem anytime soon, and many place blame on COVID-19 and President Joe Biden.

Inflation dominates a majority of Americans’ worries about the economy: 81% call it a serious problem. Most say “the prices of goods and services you buy” (52%) are the best indicator of the health of the economy – more than name the jobless rate (17%), the stock market (6%), or even their own personal finances (11%). Many Americans (42%) expect a higher rate of inflation in six months and most (55%) anticipate higher gas prices. Looking ahead, nearly eight times as many believe their family will be hurt more by inflation (63%) in the next few months than by unemployment (8%).

Who or what do Americans blame for rising inflation? Two-thirds say COVID-19 deserves “a lot of the blame”; most Republicans (59%) and Democrats (78%) agree. About half of Americans (48%) believe President Biden deserves “a lot of the blame” for inflation. Nearly nine in 10 Republicans (87%) and 15% of Democrats agree.

There is no easy way to lower inflation, at least according to the American public. Only one of eight possible solutions proposed in the poll is seen as a good idea by the majority of Americans: providing childcare support to reduce worker shortages. The second most popular proposal was punishing companies participating in anti-competitive behavior — a measure Biden has advocated for in recent months.

Republicans and Democrats are divided on most of the potential solutions we polled on. Democrats are more likely than Republicans to support most measures One exception is reducing government spending on domestic programs: 57% of Republicans support it, compared to 16% of Democrats. 

See the toplines and crosstabs from this Economist/YouGov Poll

Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 U.S. adult citizens interviewed online between February 12 and February 15, 2022. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the 2018 American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, as well as 2016 and 2020 Presidential votes (or non-votes). Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all U.S. citizens. The margin of error is approximately 3% for the overall sample.