On the ballot in the US midterms: Economy

Nathan Rojas, 23, lives in Georgia, United States and drives daily from his parents’ home to his job. Rising gas prices this year have made his commute a struggle.

“Not everybody can work from home,” Rojas said. “Gas isn’t a privilege, it’s a necessity.”

Nathan Rojas, 23, lives in Georgia, United States and drives daily from his parents’ home to his job. Rising gas prices this year have made his commute a struggle.

“Not everybody can work from home,” Rojas said. “Gas isn’t a privilege, it’s a necessity.”

At the grocery store, Rojas said his family buy half the meat they did a year ago because food prices have risen so steeply.

Rojas voted early Wednesday at the Putnam County Board of Elections in Eatonton, Georgia, which residents in his county can do between October 17 and November 4. He said he switched from the candidate his sister advised him to vote for to one he thought could help temper inflation and lower taxes for the less wealthy.

Crucial midterm elections due in the US on November 8 – when voters decide if Democrats or Republicans will control the US House of Representatives or Senate – come at a time when inflation in the country is running rampant. The Federal Reserve has hiked interest rates to the highest levels since early 2008, making the economy a pressing poll issue alongside vital concerns like women’s reproductive rights and access to voting.

A Pew Research poll conducted in mid-October determined that the economy is top of mind for 79 percent of voters. Among these respondents, Republicans outnumbered Democrats. The cost of food, gas and housing, respectively, are the three most concerning economic issues, according to poll respondents.

The effect of increasing grocery prices can be seen at food pantries, according to Alicia Harrison, the program director for MEND, an interfaith network of 22 food pantries throughout Essex County, New Jersey.

“There continues to be a tremendous amount of need,” said Harrison. “Not only have the pantries not seen a decrease, they’ve actually seen an increase over the last few months. They’re seeing new clients every week.”

She attributed this increase to people who had depleted their financial savings since the pandemic and the end of the eviction moratorium that had been in place during the pandemic, as well as the rising prices. “For a lot of these people, every incremental increase means they have to decide what they’re buying. It’s a big struggle.”

US food prices rose 11.4 percent between August 2021 and August 2022, according to data in the latest Consumer Price Index from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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