New York Times|Momentive Poll: April 2022

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New York Times|Momentive Poll: April 2022

Economic concerns run high for many Americans, with 9 in 10 saying they're concerned about inflation.

Brianna Richardson

May 11, 2022 | 8 min read

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Key findings: 

  • More people blame record-high inflation on the COVID-19 pandemic, supply chain disruptions, and corporations in general than last year’s stimulus money or the ongoing situation in Ukraine 
  • Majority (60%) of Americans say now is a good time to look for a new job 
    • 66% of employed adults are confident they could find a new job with similar pay right now if they wanted to; fewer (55%) are confident about finding a new job with higher pay
  • Pain at the pump: 78% of Americans say recent price increases in gas prices have caused financial hardship for their household
  • Consumer confidence hits another all-time low, dropping down to 39 from the previous low of 41 out of 100 in February (poll has been running since Jan. 2017)
    • The University of Michigan’s consumer confidence dropped from 62.8 in February to 59.4 in March. Preliminary results for April show the index increasing to 65.7, but it still remains lower than in any prior month in the past decade  

Inflation concerns linger, but who’s to blame? 

For many Americans, inflation concerns linger: 91% are concerned about inflation, a slight uptick from February (89%). 

There’s plenty of blame to go around for the record-high inflation, but more people point the finger at the COVID-19 pandemic (45% say it gets a lot of blame) and supply chain disruptions (43% say it gets a lot of blame), though nearly as many blame corporations (40% assign them a lot of blame). The American Rescue Plan (ARP) and the Russia-Ukraine war both trail, with just 30% assigning each “a lot” of blame. 

While few adults overall place a lot of blame on the ARP for record-high inflation, Republicans feel otherwise: over half of Republicans (52%) say it gets a lot of blame—the highest of any potential reason among Republicans. In comparison, just 11% of Democrats and 26% of independents say the same.

  • Receiving a stimulus makes no difference: those who received a stimulus check as a result of the ARP are almost equally as likely as those who didn’t receive a stimulus check to say the ARP gets a lot of blame (30% vs. 31%)    

Democrats are most likely to point the finger at corporations (58% of Democrats say they get a lot of blame) and COVID-19 (56% say it gets a lot blame). In comparison, about a third (34%) of Republicans place a lot of blame on COVID and even fewer on corporations (24%).   

Americans’ approval of the American Rescue Plan remains unchanged

Two-thirds (67%) of Americans still say they approve of the American Rescue Plan, the stimulus package passed in March 2021 that provided federal support to individuals and businesses impacted by the pandemic. Approval remains unchanged from a March 2021 NYT|SurveyMonkey Poll (67%).  

Differences in approval are heavily partisan: Democrats are more than twice as likely as Republicans to say they approve of the ARP (91% vs. 42%) and over half (55%) of Democrats “strongly approve.” 

Approval remains high as 61% say they received a stimulus check as a result of the American Rescue Plan while just 37% say they didn’t. Those who received a stimulus check are more likely to say they approve of the American Rescue Plan compared with those who didn’t receive a stimulus check (72% vs. 62%), and for once partisanship isn’t at play: Democrats and Republicans are almost equally likely to say they received a check (63% vs. 60%). 

6 in 10 Americans say now is a good time to look for a new job

Despite economic woes, 60% of Americans say now is a good time for people to look for a new job, with a full third (33%) saying it’s a “very good” time. Just 6% say now is a bad time. 

  • This is true regardless of employment status: 62% of employed adults along with 60% of adults who aren’t employed say now is a good time to look for a new job 
  • Young adults are a bit less optimistic: 57% of those age 18-34 and 59% of those age 35-54 say now is a good time to look for a new job compared with 65% of those 55+ years old.
  • College graduates are more likely than those with a high school diploma or some college to say now is a good time to look for a new job (69% vs. 57%) 

As the job market rebounds toward pre-pandemic levels, the majority (66%) of employed adults say they’re confident they could find a new job with similar pay right now if they wanted; only a third (33%) lack confidence. Among those that are employed:  

  • Asian and Black adults are most confident: 72% of Blacks and 71% of Asians are confident they could find a new job with similar pay right now if they wanted to vs. 65% of Hispanics, 65% of whites, and 56% of adults of another race 
  • Young adults lead in confidence: 72% of those age 18-34 are confident they could find a new job with similar pay right now if they wanted to vs. 66% of adults age 35-54 and 59% of adults age 55+   
  • More education positively impacts confidence: those with a college degree are slightly more confident that they could find a new job with similar pay compared with high school graduates or those with some college (70% vs. 64%) 

But fewer (55%) are confident about finding a new job with higher pay right now if they wanted to. This gap between those who are confident they could get a new job and those who are confident they could get a better-paying job holds true for all groups, regardless of gender, age, race or education level.  

A positive perception of the job market bolsters confidence: 62% of employed adults who say now is a good time to look for a new job say they’re confident that they could find a new job with higher pay—twice as high as those who say now is a bad time (31%) and 17 points higher than those who say now is a mixed time (45%).

Those with pay raises see a strong job market 

Almost 6 in 10 (58%) workers say they’ve received a pay raise in the past year, roughly in line with a February 2022 New York Times|Momentive poll (55%). However, just 15% of those who have received a pay raise in the last year say their raise has kept up with inflation. A third (33%) of adults say they haven’t received a pay raise and 8% say they took a pay cut.  

Those whose pay raises kept up with inflation are particularly confident in the job market: 77% of employed adults who’ve received a pay bump that’s kept up with inflation in the last year say now is a good time to look for a new job, including over half (55%) who say now is a “very good” time. In comparison, just under half (48%) of employed adults who took a pay cut in the last year agree. Among employed adults who received pay raises that didn’t keep up with inflation, 6 in 10 (62%) say now is a good time to job hunt—roughly the same as those who didn’t receive a pay raise at all (60%). 

Those who received pay raises that kept up with inflation are also far more confident about finding a new job: 83% of those who received a pay raise that kept up with inflation are confident that they could find a new job with similar pay right now if they wanted to—the highest of any group. 

Pain at the pump: Americans hit by rising gas prices 

Over 4 in 10 (44%) Americans say recent price increases in gas have caused a “minor” financial hardship for their household while a third (34%) of Americans say it’s caused a “major” hardship. Just 21% say recent price increases in gas haven’t caused any financial hardship. 

  • Republicans are twice as likely as Democrats to say gas prices have caused a “major” financial hardship for their household (43% vs. 22%) 
  • Those who have taken a pay cut are hit hard: 51% of those who took a pay cut in the last year say gas prices have caused a “major” financial hardship for their household vs. 39% who haven’t gotten a pay raise, 33% who got a pay raise that didn’t keep with inflation, and 22% who got a pay raise that kept up with inflation 
  • Adults who are concerned about inflation are more than four times as likely to say gas prices have caused a “major” financial hardship compared with those who aren’t concerned about gas prices (36% vs. 8%) 

Naturally, those who drive more face a heavy impact: 43% of those who drive more than 100 miles per week say recent increases in gas prices have caused a “major” financial hardship compared with those who drive between 51-100 miles (38%), those who drive between 1-50 miles (28%), and those who don’t drive at all (18%).

Consumer confidence hits all-time low—again 

Consumer confidence sinks to a new all-time low of 39 out of 100, dipping below the previous low point (41) seen in February 2022 and 10 points lower than April 2021 (49). In these latest data: 

  • 36% say now is a bad time for major household purchases, up 5 points from December 2021 (31%) and eking up slightly from February (34%) 
  • 41% of Americans say their family is financially worse off now than they were a year ago, up slightly from February (38%) 
  • 65% say they expect periods of widespread unemployment or depression in the next five years—on par with our last survey in February (64%)  

The index drops as confidence among Republicans slumps to a new low of 21, beating out the previous low of 24 seen in February. 

Republicans are most likely to harbor a negative financial view: 67% of Republicans say their family is financially worse off now than they were a year ago (up slightly from 61% in February) compared with 18% of Democrats and 40% of independents. 

And they don’t expect things to get better: 58% of Republicans say they expect to be financially worse off a year from now, up slightly from February (53%).

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