Many Americans Still Struggling with Inflation, Remain Worried About Economy
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A majority of Americans are worried about the economy as many are still struggling to pay their bills for basic necessities like groceries.
According to a recent News Nation/Decision Desk HG poll, 62% say they're very concerned about inflation.
About 54% said it's a bigger problem facing the country than even crime or immigration.
And 44% of Americans said they are worse off financially than they were this time last year.
Fed chairman Jerome Powell announced Wednesday the central bank is leaving interest rates unchanged for the second month in a row as it tracks inflation.
Powell himself suggested that Fed officials remain unsure about whether further rate increases might still be needed to defeat inflation.
"That's the question we're asking: Should we hike again?" Powell said. "Slowing down the rate increases is giving us a better sense of how much more we need to do if we need to do more."
He expressed confidence that inflation, despite some signs of persistence in the most recent monthly data, is easing up a bit even as the economy is still growing.
"The good news," Powell said, "is we're making progress. The progress is going to come in lumps and be bumpy, but we are making progress."
U.S. interest rates currently sit at the highest level in 23 years in the range of 5.25% to 5.50%.
In its recent blog, The White House's Council of Economic Advisors said, "The US economy has proven to be consistently resilient."
"The American consumer, backed by a persistently tight labor market and recently rising real wages, is one salient force behind this economic resilience," the council wrote.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said last week, "You don't really see any sign of recession here," after the government released its report on strong economic growth in the U.S.
"What we have looks like a soft landing with very good outcomes for the U.S. economy," she said.
However, some financial experts have expressed uncertainty about the economy's recovery looking forward to next year, according to Business Insider.
"There has been an escalation of geopolitical stresses around the globe — the war in Ukraine, ongoing tensions with China, and now the conflict in the Middle East," Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon said. "Overall levels of risk are more elevated than we've seen in quite some time."
"The Federal Reserve again decided not to raise interest rates, but have not ruled out a hike before year-end," Sam Khater, Freddie Mac's chief economist told the Associated Press. "Coupled with geopolitical uncertainty, this ambiguity around monetary policy will likely have an impact on the overall economic landscape and may continue to stall improvements in the housing market."
The average rate on the benchmark 30-year home loan fell slightly this week to 7.76% from 7.79%, mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday. A year ago, the rate averaged 6.95%.
The combination of rising mortgage rates and home prices has weighed on sales of previously occupied U.S. homes, which fell in September for the fourth month in a row, grinding to their slowest pace in more than a decade.
Prospective homebuyers and sellers should expect the average rate on a 30-year home loan to remain close to 8% this month, before coming down slightly by the end of the year, said Lisa Sturtevant, chief economist at Bright MLS.
"No one should expect a dramatic drop in rates next year," she said. "It is a new era where the average rate on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage will remain around 7% through early next year before declining to 6% by the end of 2024."
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