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Overwhelming Majority of Americans Say US on the Wrong Track as Two-Thirds Now Living Paycheck to Paycheck

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While Democrats hope abortion will be a major issue in the upcoming midterm elections, high inflation and the economy remain the top issue for voters with an overwhelming – and growing – majority of Americans say the U.S. is heading in the wrong direction. 

Eighty-five percent of U.S. adults say the country is on the wrong track. That number includes 78% of Democrats – President Joe Biden's own party – and 92% of Republicans, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research

The findings suggest President Biden and the Democrats face severe pressure going into November's midterm elections. 

Inflation has consistently eclipsed the low 3.6% unemployment rate as a focal point for Americans, who are dealing with high gasoline and food prices. Even among Democrats, 67% call economic conditions poor.

In a commentary for The Daily Signal, Daren Bakst, a senior research fellow in regulatory policy studies at The Heritage Foundation, noted "food prices in May of 2022 were 10% higher than they were in 2021."

"The size of these food price increases have not been seen in over 40 years and are occurring across food categories, from fresh fruits (8.5%) to fish and seafood (12.2%)," Bakst wrote. "Over the past nine months, each month's year-over-year food price increase has been above 4%, with each successive month higher than the previous—starting at 4.6% in September and reaching 10.1% in May."

Bakst also said the Biden administration's "war on energy is one of the main culprits in driving up food prices. Energy is an input that affects sectors across the economy, including the food sector. From turning on lights and operating machinery to transporting goods, energy is critical across the food supply chain."

"Policymakers at all levels of government should be laser-focused on removing the many government interventions that are driving up prices, including food prices. Instead of driving inflation, policymakers need to remove the policies that are contributing to it," he concluded. 

Two-Thirds of U.S. Population Now Living Paycheck to Paycheck

The rising inflation is affecting all U.S. consumers at all levels of income.  About 157 million Americans – almost two-thirds of the U.S. population – currently live paycheck to paycheck, making it the main financial lifestyle in the United States, according to a new study released by

PYMNTS' research found that 61% of U.S. consumers were living paycheck to paycheck in April 2022, marking a 9 percentage point increase from 52% in April 2021. According to the study's researchers, this means approximately three in five U.S. consumers devote nearly all of their salaries to expenses with little to nothing left over at the end of the month, the study said, making it difficult to pay bills and build savings. 

The study also suggests inflation will most likely be part of the U.S. economic picture for many months to come, and consumers living paycheck to paycheck no matter what income bracket will need to find some way to cut back their spending even more.

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