Jun 2, 2022 - News

Inflation worries vary by where you live

Illustration of the U.S. flag with one stripe moving upward like a chart trend line

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The broad optimism that Americans felt about the economy in the spring of 2021 — optimism that even a global pandemic couldn't squelch — has finally been undone by inflation, Axios' Felix Salmon reports.

Why it matters: The sharp rise in food and energy prices over the past year has had a particularly harsh effect on the finances of suburban and rural Americans.

Driving the news: Since last year, McKinsey and Ipsos have conducted a massive survey of Americans every six months that asks about their perceptions of the state of the economy. This time around, sentiment has fallen sharply.

By the numbers: Americans now have a negative outlook on the economy, as the overall index has fallen to 99 — a "negative outlook" — this spring from 103 — a "positive outlook" — a year ago.

  • City-dwelling Americans remain optimistic overall, with their score falling modestly, from 112 to 109.
  • In the suburbs, pessimism has started to bite more seriously, with the score falling from 103 last fall to 96 this spring.
  • Rural areas seem to be faring the worst. The index shows their score at a shocking 85, down from an already weak 95 a year ago.

Between the lines: Overall inflation is bad, with prices rising 8.3% over the past year. Food and energy prices, however, have shot up much more quickly than that, up 17.4% in April from the previous year.

  • Gasoline prices alone are up 43.6%.

💭 Justin's thought bubble: I have a small urban family. We don't worry about inflation because we've been eating $15 cheeseburgers and drinking $6 coffee for years.

  • Gas, groceries, goods and services have always cost more here. But I can get to Navy Pier in, like, 10 minutes. Jealous? 😂

💭 Monica's thought bubble: As an urban mostly empty nester who works from home, cooks a lot, and takes a bike or a train to my appointments, I'm not feeling inflation as much as most. But I recognize the luxury of my position.

  • My siblings, who live in the 'burbs with kids and commute to work, feel much differently.

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