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Reducing the Impacts of Rising Inflation

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By The VCU Wilder School’s Office of Research and Outreach
July 10, 2023

The rising costs of groceries, housing, transportation and more are putting a strain on many Americans. Virginia is no different, with inflation continuing to be a top concern for many residents. According to the January 2023 Wilder School Commonwealth Poll, inflation that led to increased prices of gas, groceries and other goods was one of the primary reasons that Virginians chose to vote in the November 2022 midterm election, with 32 percent of participants citing this reason. Other reasons for voting included the future of democracy in the United States (32 percent), the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade (14 percent) and rising violent crime rates (seven percent).

This poll was conducted from December 3–16, 2022, with results released in January 2023. It was a representative sample of 804 adults (ages 18 and older) living in Virginia, and was conducted via landline and cellphone. A two-stage weighting procedure was used to weight this dual-frame sample by the demographic characteristics of gender, age, education, race, ethnicity, Hispanic origin, region of residence and personal phone use, with the main geographic and demographic benchmarks obtained from the 2017 American Community Survey (ACS). The overall margin of error was +/- 5.81 percentage points.

The poll also found that Virginians wanted inflation to be the top priority of Virginia’s General Assembly during their 2023 legislative session, with 37 percent of poll participants citing this as a top concern. Following inflation, Virginians felt that the General Assembly should focus on the future of democracy in the United States (21 percent), rising violent crime rates (13 percent) and the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. In addition, 53 percent of participants felt that more action should be taken by the Governor to address inflation in the commonwealth.

The poll also asked about specific ways in which inflation is impacting Virginians. An overwhelming majority (72 percent) of participants said that they saw access to affordable housing as being a serious issue in their community. Considering demographic breakdowns, over 80 percent of African Americans, Democrats and those 18 to 34 years old identified housing as a pressing issue in their community. Even though Hispanics, men and Republicans had less agreement that affordable housing was an issue, over half of those respondents still identified it as a concern.

Transportation, and the affordability of vehicles and gas, is another inflation-related issue. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Virginia (and other states) received federal money to provide free or discounted fares for public transportation. Of those polled, six in 10 Virginians supported the state continuing to fund this public transit initiative. Similar to affordable housing views, over 70 percent of Democrats, African Americans and those aged 18 to 34 years old were most supportive of funding free or reduced fares for public transit. While whites, male respondents and those aged 55 years and older were less supportive, more than 50 percent of those respondents supported the initiative.

Nationwide polls show similar findings to the Virginia poll. A January 2023 Gallup Poll, for example, found inflation to be the second most important problem facing the country today, with 15 percent of participants citing that as their top issue (up from 16 percent in Gallup’s November–December 2022 poll). This was second only to the government (21 percent), and was followed by immigration (11 percent), the economy (10 percent) and unifying the country (six percent). The Gallup poll also found that both Republicans and Democrats saw inflation as a top concern, though it was slightly more of a concern to Republicans (18 percent versus 11 percent).

This concern over inflation also comes along with concerns about the economy in general. The Gallup Economic Confidence Index (2000 – 2023) shows that 2022 and 2023 saw some of the lowest confidence levels since 2000, second only to the economic recession in 2008/2009.

Clearly, inflation is an issue. The question becomes: how can policymakers make things better? Solutions are varied, and not all are agreed upon by members of different political parties. Some ideas that have been suggested include:

  • Increasing domestic production of goods,
  • Reducing federal spending,
  • Investing in childcare,
  • Increasing taxes on wealthy individuals,
  • Improving supply chains,
  • Setting reasonable goals to slow inflation (rather than aiming for a drastic, immediate decrease),
  • Driving down healthcare costs and
  • Using price controls.

By consulting public policy polls conducted at local, state and national levels, and by staying up-to-date on the latest developments on the state of inflation, policymakers can ensure that that they are working to mitigate the impacts of inflation as they work to decide which solutions to implement and, ultimately, how to best serve their constituents.

Author: The Wilder School’s Center for Public Policy advances research and training that informs public policy and decisionmaking to improve our communities. Drawing on the wide-ranging expertise of Wilder School faculty, we provide services including leadership development and training, economic and policy impact analysis, survey insights and program evaluation to clients in governments, nonprofits, businesses and the public, across Virginia and beyond. Twitter: @VCUWilderSchool

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