Poll: Concern about inflation rises as economy recovers from pandemic

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An overwhelming majority of Americans are concerned about inflation, and they’re not uniformly confident in the government’s ability to reel it in, according to a new Harvard CAPS/Harris poll shared exclusively with The Hill. 

In total, 85 percent of respondents say that they’re at least somewhat concerned about inflation, including 45 percent who say that they’re “very concerned.” The rising worries come on the heels of news that the consumer price index rose 0.6 percent last month as the economy continues to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Over the past year, the pace of inflation reached a 13-year high, rising to 5 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Top officials, including Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, have said that the inflation rate will eventually abate. If it doesn’t, “we wouldn’t hesitate to use our tools to address that,” Powell said last week.

Most Americans — 58 percent — say that they trust the Federal Reserve to keep inflation in check, according to the Harvard CAPS/Harris poll. 

But a significant minority of respondents — 42 percent — aren’t confident in the central bank’s ability to manage rising costs. What’s more, 45 percent say they have little confidence in the Biden administration’s ability to reel in inflation, while 55 percent say they trust the administration to curb it. 

“Concern about inflation is reaching new highs as people begin to spend their savings from COVID lockdowns,” Mark Penn, the co-director of the Harvard CAPS/Harris poll said. “The administration has to watch this as a potential issue on the horizon.” 

Still, a growing number of Americans believe the strength of the U.S. economy is increasing as pandemic-era restrictions are lifted and more people become vaccinated.

Fifty-seven percent of respondents say that the economy is getting stronger — a 12-point increase from January when only 45 percent said so. What’s more, a plurality of respondents — 37 percent — said that their financial situation is improving, marking a 9-point increase since January.

The Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey of 2,006 registered voters was conducted from June 15-17. It is a collaboration of the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard University and The Harris Poll.

Full poll results will be posted online later this week. Respondents are recruited via voter panel providers on a randomized basis and their responses are then weighted to reflect known demographics. As a representative poll conducted online, it does not report a probability confidence interval.

–Updated at 5:48 p.m.

Tags economy Federal Reserve Harvard Harris poll Inflation Jerome Powell Joe Biden Mark Penn White House

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