The median overall perceived inflation over the past year is 10% - similar to 2020 levels and two times higher than what it was in 2018

The Chinese yuan is joined by crypto-currencies as top long-term threat to the US dollar

2021 inflation index

In 2016, 2018 and 2020, we looked at Americans' perception of inflation and found those perceptions to be considerably higher than the official numbers. In a new Zogby Analytics national online survey of 1,007 American adults, we revisited these questions for the fourth time. We have found that subjective perception of how much prices have increased or decreased has either stayed the same or risen over the past year.

Median overall perceived inflation over the past year is 10% - a double of what it was in 2018 and back to how it was perceived in 2016. Similar to results obtained in 2018 and 2020, women perceive inflation to be higher than do men. But unlike the results obtained in 2018 and 2020 when Democrats perceived inflation to be significantly higher than Republicans, this year both Democrats and Republicans agree on inflation levels.

The partisan gap in perceived inflation has disappeared over the past year while the gender gap has persisted. The average overall perceived inflation among females is 11.7% - one percentage point higher than in 2020 and two percentage points higher than among males. Baby Boomers (12.3%) and Generation X (11.4%) continue to perceive inflation as higher than Millennials (9.4%) and Generation Z respondents do (8.6%, three percentage points higher than in 2020), but age gaps have narrowed over the past year.

Among categories tested, median perceived inflation was highest for housing (10%) and food and beverages (10%), and lowest for childcare (5%).

Similar to previous three surveys, we have asked our respondents to separately estimate the change in prices for the following categories: food and beverages, housing, healthcare, college education and childcare. The highest mean perceived inflation was for food and beverages and housing (10.8%) and lowest for childcare (7.3%).

Different categories are perceived differently by various demographic groups. Baby Boomers (12.2 %, compared to overall mean perceived inflation of 10.8%) perceive the highest inflation of prices of food and beverages. Baby Boomers (14.1%) are joined by Americans in the West (12%) and females (11.9%) in perceiving relatively higher inflation in housing prices (overall mean inflation 10.8%). In the case of healthcare (overall mean inflation 8.8%) inflation is once again seen as higher by Baby Boomers (10.6%) but also in the South (10.1%). Perceived inflation in education and childcare (overall mean inflation 7.7% and 7.3%, respectively) is also highest among Baby Boomers (9.5%).

Americans' fear of inflation continues to rise. On a scale 1-10 where 1 stands for 'not at all afraid' and 10 for 'terrified', average fear of inflation this year was 6.2, compared to last year's 5.9. Republicans and Donald Trump voters as well as Baby Boomers and Generation X are most worried about inflation.

American adults are getting more worried about inflation. On a scale 1-10 where 1 stands for 'not at all afraid' and 10 for 'terrified', average fear of inflation is 6.20 and 6 is the median. Baby Boomers (6.4) and Generation X (6.4) are significantly more worried about inflation than Millennials (6.1) and Generation Z (5.6) while females (6.4) are more worried than males (6.0). Unlike last year, when Democrats were one of the groups most worried about inflation, this year it is Republicans (6.6) and those who voted for Trump in the 2020 presidential election (6.8) that are much more worried about inflation than are Democrats (6.1), Independents (5.8) and Joe Biden's voters (5.9).

This year, crypto-currencies have joined the Chinese yuan (both at 19%) in being perceived as the biggest long-term threats to the US dollar. The Euro now comes at third place at 12%. Older adults, top earners, college-educated and adults living in rural areas perceive the Chinese yuan as the biggest threat, while young respondents and those living in big cities see crypto-currencies as the top threat.

Chinese yuan inched another percentage and remained a top perceived threat to dollar at 19%. However, this year it is joined there by crypto-currencies. Similar to results from previous surveys, the older the respondents are, the more likely they are to see the Chinese yuan as a threat to the US dollar: 35% of respondents over 70 years of age consider yuan the top threat, compared to 26% of respondents in the 55-69 age group, 17% of respondents in the 35-54 age group, and just 9% of respondents in the 25-34 and 18-24 age groups. Other demographic groups that see yuan as a top threat in high numbers are adults living in rural areas (26%), those in the top ($150K+) income group (32%) and college-educated (27%). On the other hand, males (23%; 14% among females), respondents living in large cities (22%), those in the $35-50K income group (24%) and respondents in the 25-34 age group (22%) perceive crypto-currencies as a top threat.

The poll of 1,007 US adults was conducted online between 5/26/2021 through 5/27/2021 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points.