Sticker shock: Survey finds most Utahns worried about record inflation

An overwhelming majority of Utahns are deeply concerned about the impacts of record high inflation and most believe the high costs of goods and services aren’t expected to come down anytime soon.

That’s according to a new Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll conducted Jan. 20-28 of 815 registered Utah voters. The results come with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.43%.

The survey revealed that 93% of respondents are somewhat or very concerned about inflation, with 7% being somewhat or not at all concerned about the issue. And, of those who expressed some level of concern, 64% believe the impacts of inflation will be long-term and prices will continue to rise, while 26% of survey participants believe inflation will be temporarily and the costs of goods and services stabilize.

Consumer prices in the United States have been rising for 18 months, but jumped about 7% in December, the fastest year-over-year rise since 1982, according to federal data and marking the third consecutive month in which the rate was 6% or more in 2020.

Hit close to home

West Jordan resident Sheryl Cronin took part in the new Deseret News poll and said she and her partner were able to absorb the extra costs of rising inflation, but overcame her very acute impacts last summer.

“We felt it the most when we bought a house last June,” Cronin said. “The price was intense for us.”

Cronin said the surprisingly large cash outlay amid a scorching Utah housing market was somewhat offset by the fact that she got much more than she expected at the sale. a condo before buying her new home, getting double what she paid for less than 10 years ago. for the unit.

But she also noted that the higher prices had some influence on decisions about whether to dine out and what to buy at the grocery store.

U.S. Department of Labor Consumer Price Index Report, a measure of average changes in the prices of a selection of goods and services, found that these prices jumped in December 2021 at a pace not seen in nearly four decades. Rising costs for housing, food and used vehicles contributed to the record increase as strong consumer demand coupled with ongoing issues with supply chain networks continue to have an impact on family budgets.

The report found that grocery prices rose 6.3%, energy 29.3%, used cars and trucks 37.3% and housing costs 4.1% from at the same time last year. Gasoline prices that have fallen dramatically during pandemic restrictions have risen nearly 50%, according to federal data.

Even the decline in increases in the volatile food and energy price categories left a rate of 5.5% in all other areas, the biggest jump since 1991, according to the report.

The new polling data reflects that worries about inflation are on the rise for Utahans compared to responses gathered in a July Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll.

In this survey, 85% of Utah residents said they were very or somewhat concerned about inflation. And of this group, 25% said the rise in prices would be “temporary” versus 60% who think inflation will be a “long-lasting” problem.

Feel the impact of inflation

The latest findings come as no surprise to Phil Dean, former state budget director and senior public finance fellow for the University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute.

“There are significant price increases in most categories,” Dean said. “Food, rent, gasoline…people see and feel those high prices in their budget.”

Dean said the inflation concerns shared by Utah residents are consistent with national data and, after several months of record year-over-year rates, worries are becoming more entrenched in the economy. mind of consumers.

And there is data to suggest that inflation has supplanted COVID-19 as the nation’s top source of anxiety.

A January poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that handling the coronavirus pandemic is beginning to recede in the minds of Americans. COVID-19 is increasingly overshadowed by worries about the economy and personal finances, and in particular inflation.

The poll found that only 37% of Americans named the virus as one of their top five priorities for the government to work on in 2022, compared to 53% who said it was a top priority to the same time a year ago. The economy topped the pandemic in the open-ended question, with 68% of respondents mentioning it in some way as a top concern for 2022. A similar percentage said the same last year, but mentions of inflation are much higher now – 14% this year, compared to less than 1% last year.

Draper resident and survey participant Julie Day said inflation and related issues such as global supply chain groans were having a major effect on the contract furniture business she runs with her husband.

“My husband and I are sales reps for a variety of furniture manufacturers,” Day said. “Almost all of the products come from China…and only the price of the shipping containers to get the furniture here has gone from around $3,000 to over $20,000.”

Day said she believes the rising cost of consumer goods amid the current pandemic has highlighted a mistake made by US companies in moving much of their manufacturing to overseas sites.

Economic outlook for the nation and Utah

As supply chain issues, along with a nationwide labor shortage and unprecedented levels of COVID-19-related federal stimulus grants pouring into the economy have exacerbated the inflationary pressures, the Federal Reserve seems poised to fend off rising inflation using its most powerful tool – hiking interest rates.

“We’re definitely ready for a hike in March,” said San Francisco Federal Reserve Chair Mary Daly. told Reuters in a brief telephone interview late last month. “But after that, I want to see what the data gives us…let’s go to omicron, look at that and see.”

Daly was a guest speaker at the recent Utah Economic Policy Summit, where she discussed how the impacts of COVID-19 have rippled through an interconnected global supply chain with shutdowns in Asia leading to shortages in states. States amid record demand which, itself, is driven by pandemic conditions that have shifted consumer spending from services to goods. She cited a few examples, including how a two-week closure of a maritime link in Vietnam led to three-month delays in goods passing through that particular port.

She also offered a deeper definition of the Fed’s assertion, offered months ago, that rising inflation would be a “transitory” problem that would fade as broader systems returned to pre-pandemic operations.

Daly said COVID-19 has simply persisted longer than expected and economic impacts like higher than normal demand for goods and supply chain bottlenecks that have exacerbated inflation rates will not will not persist beyond the time pandemic conditions subside.

Daly also reiterated that the Fed’s plans to institute nominal upward adjustments to interest rates over the coming year will not be aimed at “neither stimulating nor pulling the reins” of the US economy.

When asked to weigh in on the year ahead, Daly said she was “optimistic” for 2022 and, pending any other unexpected changes in pandemic conditions, she sees a positive economic path ahead. , and especially for Utah.

“I see the beginning of a real rebuild from what we’ve been through,” Daly said. “I am very optimistic. Many sectors are still disturbed and not at all back to what they were. These are the people, businesses and areas that we need to attract. Some places, like Utah, will be in the lead and we need everyone to come in and follow.

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