Two thirds of voters say their incomes are falling behind the cost of living

Two thirds of voters say their incomes are falling behind the cost of living, and grocery bills EXCEED mortgage repayments for some, as the economy is the top priority in the upcoming midterms

  • 63 percent of Americans say their wages cannot keep pace with cost of living 
  • Grocery store prices rose 13.5 percent in the year to August
  • That’s the steepest rise since the stagflation of the late 1970s 
  • The price of eggs alone jumped nearly 40 percent in the year to August  
  • For some, keeping a pantry stocked costs more than monthly mortgage dues 
  • High supermarket prices make restaurants relatively more affordable
  • Manufacturers have resorted to reducing the sizes of their products, known as ‘shrinkflation’
  • Is inflation hurting your family? Email [email protected]

Nearly two thirds of U.S. adults say their incomes are falling behind the cost of living, and grocery bills have surpassed mortgage repayments for some, as the economy remains a key issue for voters in the upcoming midterm elections.

Recent polling by NBC News found that 63 percent of voters say they could not make ends meet because their incomes were not keeping up with higher living costs, while 58 percent disapproved of the Biden administration’s economic policies.

Still, the survey of 1,000 adults found that President Joe Biden’s approval rating had risen to 45 percent, and his Democratic Party was making gains against rival Republicans, driven by voter anger over women’s restricted access to abortions.

The survey comes as Americans faced another month of economic hardship. While average gas prices have dipped to $3.67 per gallon, the pain is being increasingly felt at grocery store checkouts.

U.S. consumer prices unexpectedly rose in August, with an 8.3 percent increase against the previous year, and underlying inflation accelerated amid rising costs for rents, healthcare and food.

Grocery prices are up 13.5 percent from a year ago, the largest annual increase since 1979, the latest Labor Department data show

Grocery prices are up 13.5 percent from a year ago, the largest annual increase since 1979, the latest Labor Department data show

According to the Labor Department’s Consumer Price Index, the overall cost of food rose 11.4 percent, with the food-at-home category, groceries, up 13.5 percent — the steepest rises since the late 1970s.

Speaking with shoppers in Houma, Louisiana, The Wall Street Journal even encountered a 38-year-old mom, Megan Naquin, who now spends more each month on groceries for her family of eight than on her $1,500 monthly mortgage.

‘Stuff hasn’t just gone up a little bit, it’s gone up tremendously,’ Naquin told the paper, adding that she had cut down on cooking experimental recipes and was urging her six kids to not eat their way through the pantry too quickly.

‘Anytime we go grocery shopping, we say, this better still be here next week.’

Shoppers like Naquin have noticed the steep increase in the cost of eggs, which jumped nearly 40 percent in the year to August — meaning the price of a dozen rose from $4.63 to as much as $7.69 in some stores.

Other pantry staples that have seen big price hikes include milk (which rose 17 percent in the year to August), oranges (14 percent), roasted coffee (18.7 percent), margarine (38.3 percent) and breakfast cereals (23.3 percent).

As well as watching prices trend upwards, many shoppers have taken to social media to complain about ‘shrinkflation’ — manufacturers reducing the size of their products and not cutting prices.

Others have noted that the price of foods has jumped in grocery stores (13.5 percent) while eatery bills have risen by on average 8 percent, the Labor Department says — making restaurants relatively more affordable.

Supermarket prices have risen faster because they’re more directly impacted by rising food costs and global supply chain issues. In eateries, the cost of ingredients is only a small part of the total bill.

In response to rising prices, the cash-strapped are cutting spending on travel, groceries, vacations, gas, and restaurants, as well buying cheaper products and even growing vegetables at home, according to Gallup.

August's inflation rate of 8.3% represented a drop from a 40-year high of 9.1% in June and 8.5% in July — but showed that inflation is still running hot and well above the Fed's target rate of 2%

August’s inflation rate of 8.3% represented a drop from a 40-year high of 9.1% in June and 8.5% in July — but showed that inflation is still running hot and well above the Fed’s target rate of 2%

A shopper holds groceries while waiting to check out at a grocery store in San Francisco, California, as inflation forces millions of households to cut back on everyday basics

A shopper holds groceries while waiting to check out at a grocery store in San Francisco, California, as inflation forces millions of households to cut back on everyday basics 

The average cost of a gallon of gas fell to $3.71 nationwide on Monday, down from just above $5 in mid-June. Still, pump prices were higher than they stood a year ago, when the national average was $3.18

The average cost of a gallon of gas fell to $3.71 nationwide on Monday, down from just above $5 in mid-June. Still, pump prices were higher than they stood a year ago, when the national average was $3.18

Others have tried to earn more by working overtime, finding a second job or looking for a new, better-paying position. Some were even delaying medical procedures or appointments to help make ends meet. 

President Joe Biden said in an interview with CBS 60 Minutes on Sunday he did not believe the economy was as bad as many people assert, despite inflation running at a 40-year high.

His glossy view on U.S. finances came after stocks fell sharply last week after the August inflation report came in hotter than expected, hurting investor optimism for cooling prices and a less aggressive Federal Reserve.

He talked up the administration’s achievements in creating jobs, low unemployment rates and ‘massive investments being made in computer chips’ that will buoy the economy ‘down the road’.

Polling from KFF, The Wall Street Journal, NBC News and others show that inflation and gas prices were important to voters in the upcoming midterms, which will determine which party controls Congress. 

Gun violence, abortion access and prescription drug costs were also top concerns.

Respondents to recent polls by KFF and The Wall Street Journal have cited the economy and inflation as one of their priorities ahead of the midterm elections

Respondents to recent polls by KFF and The Wall Street Journal have cited the economy and inflation as one of their priorities ahead of the midterm elections 

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