Inflation. It’s one of the most concerning issues for voters going into the midterm election, and an ever-present hurdle for the Biden Administration to surmount. As constituents of all colors head to the polls, various surveys suggest that the economy and the rising cost of living expenses is heavily influencing election decisions. Though legislation has looked to reduce the burden on Americans, many believe that a pay raise is the only way to keep up with upward pricing trends.
In a recent WalletHub study, the personal finance site found that 87 percent of workers think they should get a raise to keep up with inflation. “This is unsurprising given the fact that inflation hit 40-year highs this year and has only started to cool down in recent months,” says Jill Gonzalez, a WalletHub analyst. “The Federal Reserve aims to rein in inflation through a series of rate hikes, but Americans have already experienced a huge hit to their wallets this year, and raises could help compensate for that.”
According to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), the annual inflation rate for major categories averaged 8.2 percent year over year in the month of September. And for Black Americans and Hispanic Americans that yearly comparison reflects a higher rate of inflation. It’s no wonder then that a recent poll conducted in battleground states by the NAACP and political research firm HIT strategies found that inflation was the number one issue on Black voters’ mind, succeeded only by racism.
Even if the inflation rate was equal across the board, the racial pay gap in the United States continues to make the American workforce inequitable. WalletHub says that 55 percent of people say they’ve worked harder since the pandemic began. Though the number is not broken down by racial makeup, employment trends suggest that certain communities have struggled a bit more to remain afloat following the initial economic fallout from Covid 19.
“The pandemic caused a period of extremely high unemployment, which has been resolved but replaced by extremely high inflation, so many Americans likely feel the need to make up for lost ground in their finances by working extra hours or even an extra job,” Gonzalez explains. “Naturally, Americans who work harder will also appear to be more reliable and more valuable employees, which makes them less likely to be laid off and more likely to receive raises and promotions.”
While the country’s economic future hangs in the balance, Democrats are hoping that signing of the Biden Administration’s Inflation Reduction Act will be a sign to voters that the party is working to create economic opportunities and jobs that will reach all Americans.