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Americans' top concern is now inflation, but Psaki blames 'people's psychology' for pessimism about Biden's economy

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

There is no shortage of data points that illustrate major worries about the U.S. economy — especially when it comes to inflation. A new poll finds that inflation is now the top concern of Americans. However, White House press secretary Jen Psaki claims that Americans who have pessimism about Biden's economy are because of "people's psychology" about the pandemic.

Inflation in November was 6.8% — the highest in nearly 40 years.

Gas prices skyrocketed 58.1% over the past year, and heating oil spiked 34.3%. Besides soaring energy costs, Americans are also paying way more for food. The cost of bacon shot up 21%, beef and veal prices have swelled 20.9%, pork chops are up 12.7%, chicken rose 9.2%, fish and eggs climbed 8%, coffee increased by 7.5%, and cereal was up 5.7%.

Prices for consumer goods also increased from last November. Furniture rose 12%, laundry equipment jumped 9.2%, bikes are up 9%, and tools and other outdoor equipment increased 6.9%.

The U.S. Department of Labor reported that used car and truck prices soared 31.4% year-over-year, and rental cars jumped 37.2%.

A CNBC All-America Economic survey released on Friday found that inflation has "firmly eclipsed" coronavirus as the No. 1 concern.

Nearly half of Americans say that inflation has caused them "financial hardship," according to a Gallup poll released earlier this month.

A Yahoo News/YouGov survey released last month said that 77% of Americans say inflation has personally affected them. A clear majority — 57% — blame President Joe Biden for the high prices caused by inflation.

The White House attempted to deflect blame for inflation. Psaki blamed "people's psychology" for negativity regarding the current economy.

During Friday's White House press briefing, a reporter cited a recent NPR/Marist poll that stated 61% of Americans say the country is moving in the wrong direction. The reporter then asked Psaki, "What’s the White House’s big-picture view on why so many Americans are so pessimistic about the economy and about the direction of the country?"

Psaki replied, "Why are people experiencing things or why — because — and I — we’ve talked about this a little bit before. But, you know, a lot of it — what we’re seeing in our data is people’s psychology on the economy, on how they’re experiencing things in the country right now is related to COVID and the fact that COVID — we’re still in a fight against this virus."

"People expected it to be over sooner," she added. "We have new variants that have come up. And people are looking to get back to a normal version of life."

Psaki was also asked if Biden will "acknowledge that inflation is more entrenched and not transitory?"

Psaki responded, "But I think part of the point here is that it doesn’t really matter what you call it." She added that the White House and Federal Reserve view is that "inflation will ease over time."

In July, Biden said that price increases from inflation were temporary, Reuters reported.

In recent weeks, both Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said it was time to retire the term "transitory" when characterizing inflation.

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