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Poll: 26% cite economy as most important concern -- a pandemic high

By Adam Schrader
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Poll: 26% cite economy as most important concern -- a pandemic high
Jerome Powell speaks after U.S. President Joe Biden announced that he will serve a second term as the Federal Reserve chairman in the South Court Auditorium at the White House on Monday.  Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 22 (UPI) -- The number of Americans who ranked economic concerns as the nation's top problem has reached the highest point since the coronavirus pandemic began, according to a Gallup poll released Monday.

The survey found that 26% of Americans view economic issues like unemployment and inflation as a top priority.

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The increased concerns about the economy come after another study found that the average cost for a Thanksgiving Day feast is expected to increase by 14% from 2020.

The percentage of Americans concerned about the economy, in general, had not hit double digits since 2017 -- but hit 10% in the new poll.

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Concerns over inflation have reached their highest peak since April 2001, with 11% of Republicans naming it the top concern facing Americans compared to just 1% of Democrats.

"The last time mentions of inflation were significantly higher than now was in May 1985 when it registered 11%," Gallup said.

Despite concerns over inflation, the Commerce Department noted in its October monthly sales report that retail sales increased by $638.2 billion, or 1.7%, from September to October -- a rise of16.3% from October 2020.

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The new poll found that Republicans and Independents were nearly twice as likely as Democrats to raise concerns about the economy -- even as President Joe Biden's approval rating for the economy has fallen across political parties since February.

"Biden's ability to improve his economic and overall job approval ratings appear to be tied to his ability to address inflation and shortages, if the stronger parts of the economy can remain that way," Gallup editor Jeffrey M. Jones wrote in an analysis of the poll results.

Declining confidence levels in the economy have nearly reached their lowest level since April 2020, during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Gallup's Economic Confidence Index, confidence in the economy hit -29 in November compared to the -33 index registered in April 2020.

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Gallup pollsters noted the latest results are still comparatively low to when economic concerns peaked in 2009 amid the Great Recession. At that time, 86% of Americans ranked the financial crisis as the top issue in the country.

"Even in relatively good economic times in the past, it was common for more than 30% of Americans to name an economic issue," Jones wrote.

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On Monday, Biden announced he will nominate Jerome Powell for another term as chairman of the Federal Reserve because of the "remarkable progress" that has been made in recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Powell was first appointed to the position by former President Donald Trump.

"While there's still more to be done, we've made remarkable progress over the last 10 months in getting Americans back to work and getting our economy moving again," Biden said in a statement.

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