By CASEY HARPER
THE CENTER SQUARE
(The Center Square) – Americans are more concerned about the economy than COVID-19, even as cases surge nationwide, according to a new poll.
The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research released new polling Monday showing that only 37% of Americans list COVID-19 as one of their top five concerns that the government should work on, compared to 68% who named an economic concern.
The same time last year, 53% named COVID-19 as a top concern, much higher than the results gathered this year. Meanwhile, concern about inflation has surged. The latest poll found 14% of Americans listed it as a top issue, while 1% said the same last year.
Gallup released polling in November that found a similar trend. That poll reported that 26% of Americans cited an economic issue as the country’s most important problem. The poll reported that 21% of Americans called “the government/poor leadership” as the nation’s leading problem, while 13% said it was COVID-19.
The poll found inflation and unemployment were leading causes for concern among those surveyed. Inflation came in at the top of 7% of Americans’ list while 5% of Americans expressed the same level of concern about unemployment.
The spike in concern in economic issues in recent months likely has been driven by federal data, which show inflation has risen at the fastest rate in decades.
Producer Price Index data released in December showed final demand – the price index on goods and services for producers – rose 0.8% in November alone with a 9.6% spike in the past year. That is the largest increase since the federal government began keeping track of these numbers in 2010.
“Final demand prices moved up 0.6 percent in each of the 3 prior months,” the Bureau of Labor Statistics said. “The index for final demand services rose 0.7 percent in November, the eleventh consecutive advance. Over half of the broad-based increase in November can be traced to prices for final demand services less trade, transportation, and warehousing, which climbed 0.6 percent. The indexes for final demand trade services and for final demand transportation and warehousing services also moved higher, rising 0.6 percent and 1.9 percent, respectively.”
At the same time, the Consumer Price Index, a major marker of inflation, has risen at the fastest rate in nearly 40 years.
The Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics released data in December showing a 6.8% increase in prices in the previous 12 months.
“The all items index rose 6.8 percent for the 12 months ending October, the largest 12-month increase since the period ending June 1982,” BLS said. “The index for all items less food and energy rose 4.9 percent over the last 12 months, while the energy index rose 33.3 percent over the last year, and the food index increased 6.1 percent. These changes are the largest 12-month increases in at least 13 years in the respective series.”