Consumer prices are undeniably rising. In November, the Consumer Price Index (CPI), published by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, showed a rise of 6.8% – the fastest monthly rise since the Reagan Administration.
That’s not the whole story, though. The CPI is calculated by looking at a “basket” of goods, which economists use to model typical consumer costs. It turns out that just a few of these goods accounted for the biggest chunk of the spike in consumer prices. Energy prices (like gas) have risen 33% since one year ago, and used car and truck prices are up 31.4%, making them a major contributor. Housing costs, which accounts for one third of the CPI all by itself, rose 3.8% – the highest since 2007.
In other words – and as anyone who’s been to a Walmart recently can attest – consumer good prices are rising only very unevenly. The housing crisis, for example, is a primary mover of inflation, since out-of-control housing costs have led to spiraling prices. (See: Housing is in Crisis. Who’s Listening?) Supply chain issues have certainly impacted both the market for vehicles and gas (although gas prices are now dropping), while in the labor market, workers are demanding higher wages simply because they have leverage.
In the latest Carolina Forward polling, we asked North Carolina voters about their view on the causes for inflation. The result? Views are deeply mixed:
North Carolina voters hold a diversity of views on what’s behind inflation. While Republican politicians and pundits have argued at length that President Biden is solely to blame, this view does not appear convincing to most voters outside the GOP base. On a question with clear partisan undertones, Democrats and Republicans, unsurprisingly, take directly inverse views. Among Independents, opinion is much more mixed. A majority of Independents think that the continued impact of COVID-19 and corporate greed are more to blame for inflation than the Biden administration.
Turning to a different topic, the (sometimes controversial) growth of cryptocurrencies has been a prominent feature in the last several years, and particularly during the COVID era. We wanted to know - how many North Carolina voters actually own any cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin or Ether?
Approximately 1 in 5 North Carolina voters say they own cryptocurrency. These findings are consistent with recent Pew Research polling that found that 16% of American adults have traded in cryptocurrency.
Cryptocurrency production and trading has been criticized for its large environmental impact. Bitcoin alone, the largest single cryptocurrency but far from the only one, is estimated to consume as much energy as either Argentina or Sweden.