The majority of registered U.S. voters say their financial situation is worsening, according to a recent Harvard CAPS/Harris poll. 56% of respondents told the pollster that things are “getting worse” from a financial standpoint. Just 20% said their financial situation was improving.
The 56% figure represents an 8% increase from last month, when 48% reported a weakening financial situation. On the other hand, those who say their financial situation is improving is nearing historic lows at just 20%.
“This is a devastating finding that has been climbing month after month — no matter how they are actually doing, a solid majority believes now they are becoming worse off economically and that is America’s most critical read on the mood of the voters,” said Mark Penn, the co-director of the Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll.
The bleak outlook comes as inflation has neared historic highs. Year-over-year inflation increased by 8.5% in April’s report, reaching a 40-year-high. Though wages have increased at the fastest rate in 15 years, increasing consumer prices have eroded those gains, ultimately leading to an overall decrease in pay. Real hourly wages (earnings minus inflation) fell by 1.7% in the 12 months through January 2022.
Gas and food prices have also surged to near historic highs. As of Tuesday, the national average price for a gallon of gas has hit $4.598, according to AAA, marking the highest recorded average to date.
The Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll also found that nearly half of likely voters believe a recession is inevitable. Nearly half of those surveyed — 49 percent — say they expect the U.S. to enter a recession in the next year, while another 36 percent believe that the country is already in the midst of a period of economic decline.
U.S. GDP shrank by 1.4% in the first quarter of 2022, officially putting the nation on recession watch. Two consecutive quarters of decline currently constitutes the working definition of a recession, meaning the U.S. would officially be in the midst of an economic downturn if quarter two numbers stay the same or worsen.