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'A $5,000 Paycut for Families': 82% Worry About Inflation Heading into Midterm Elections

The US stock market plunged in September as investors grow increasingly worried about the economy. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)
The US stock market plunged in September as investors grow increasingly worried about the economy. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

New polling suggests the economy is still the dominating issue for the midterm elections with just five weeks to go before the big day. Now both parties are trying to tailor their messaging during the home stretch.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Vice President Kamala Harris defended the Biden administration at the Freedman's Bank Forum this week. They focused on equity for people when it comes to economic opportunity. 

"America is a nation driven by the ambition and aspiration of her people, and so let us continue to fight to make sure all people have a chance to realize their dreams and to determine their own future," said Harris. 

That economic future is precisely what most people seem to be fretting about. 

A new Monmouth poll shows 82% of Americans ranking inflation as an "extremely or very important issue." Crime, jobs, and immigration follow, with abortion coming in seventh on the list. Still, 56% of Americans ranked the abortion issue as an "extremely or very important issue." 

Republicans and Democrats are trying to frame economic and social issues in their messages to voters.
Are there any October surprises in store for the economy so Americans can get some relief? Some analysts say it's not likely in the near future.

"The economic situation continues to deteriorate. We've had 8 consecutive quarters of real incomes declining for families in this country and that amounts to nearly a $5,000 paycut for families," said Joel Griffith with the Heritage Foundation. 

A separate August report from Lending Club points out 60% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. People are even more squeezed thanks to higher prices for things like groceries and housing. It's up about five percent from this time last year as inflation has hit a 40 year high. A Bank of America survey found that more than 70 % of the workforce feels their pay isn't keeping up with the price increases.

High food prices are hurting Americans (Adobe stock)

There have been reports Yellen might step down as the Biden administration looks for ways to respond to economic pressures. She denied that report at the forum when asked. "There's no truth that," Yellen said as the audience applauded. 
The Monmouth survey also showed that independent voters, a highly coveted group for both parties, are two times more likely to choose economic issues over social ones when casting ballots. That could put Democrats at a disadvantage. 

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