Concerns over the state of the U.S. economy were top of mind for most Americans following the midterm elections, according to recent survey findings from U.S. News & World Report and The Harris Poll, though the same survey points to varied levels of anxiety among racial and ethnic groups as the country stares down a potential recession.
The findings are based on online polling of nearly 2,000 adults conducted by The Harris Poll from Nov. 11 to Nov. 13, ahead of an inaugural forum and webinar series from U.S. News on the state of financial and health equity in America. They were fielded amid a midterm election season rife with debate over inflation and abortion rights, and one in which Democrats held on to their majority in the U.S. Senate while losing control of the U.S. House of Representatives by a narrow margin.
The survey results indicate that 86% of U.S. adults were either very or somewhat concerned about the economy and inflation – views shared by 88% of whites and 81% of people of color. Along the same lines, 85% of whites and 78% of people of color expressed concern about a potential U.S. economic recession.
Though only some findings showed statistically significant differences, the survey indicated narrow demographic distinctions in terms of financial stress at a time when inflation has soared in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic. While the ability to afford living expenses was a concern among 71% of U.S. adults, according to the survey, 69% of whites reported it as a concern compared with 73% of people of color and 74% of Hispanics. Seventy-seven percent of women of color and 85% of low-income women also expressed concern about the issue.
Similar results were found when it came to fears about employment, with 51% of women of color saying they were concerned about losing their job compared with 45% of white respondents, 48% of people of color overall, 50% of Black or African American respondents, and 56% of Hispanic respondents.
Other survey findings showed 43% of people of color reported they sought out new or additional sources of income as a result of rising inflation compared with 39% of white Americans, and that 40% of people of color said they had provided financial support to a family member versus just 30% of whites.
According to The Harris Poll, the survey’s sample data is accurate to within 2.9 percentage points using a 95% confidence level, with this credible interval wider among subsets of the surveyed population.
During the U.S. News equity forum – held Nov. 16 in New York City – Harris Poll CEO John Gerzema said that while recent polling showed that white Americans were more likely to report concerns about the U.S. economy on a macro level, people of color were more likely to express anxiety about its impact on the micro level.
“Across the spectrum, it’s a very different dynamic for Americans based on color when you look at the hard cost of living and the real-life economic anxiety,” Gerzema said.