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Latest USF survey shows Floridians’ concerns about inflation, housing market, and student loans

Shoppers with carts stand in a grocery store aisle, surrounded by products on both sides.
Nam Y. Huh
Customers shop at a grocery store in Mount Prospect, Ill., Friday, April 1, 2022. A USF survey found that 77 percent percent of respondents said inflation has affected their grocery spending.

About 48% of the respondents said higher prices have impacted their ability to pay essential bills, and nearly three-fourths said it’s affecting their grocery spending.

The latest University of South Florida statewide public opinion poll finds that inflation is significantly impacting Floridians.

Of the 600 respondents to the USF School of Public Affairs Policy Survey, about 48% “strongly” or “somewhat agree” that higher prices have impacted their ability to pay essential bills, and over three-fourths (77%) said inflation has affected their grocery spending.

Additionally, about 80% said that inflation has impacted their discretionary spending.

Christina Stevens, the associate director of development at USF Libraries, said such concerns may remain as high as it doesn’t look like costs will come down anytime soon.

“The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that inflation increases have reached a 40-year high and a lot of experts have noted that there's really no sign of slowing down,” she said.

When asked what factors they believed had caused inflation, most of those surveyed (87%) said supply chain issues were either “very” or “somewhat responsible,” with the COVID-19 pandemic (83%) and increased federal spending (73%) also high on the list.

However, Stevens said there was an interesting trend when people were asked whether the Biden or Trump administration caused inflation, if at all.

“As soon as we threw in those names, we saw significant differences across party lines, when it comes to who Floridians blame for the inflation,” she said. “38% of Democrats said that the Biden administration was responsible for inflation, compared to 86% of Republicans; 65% of Democrats said that the Trump administration was responsible, compared to 28% of Republicans.”

Concerns about the housing market were also reflected in the study.

About 35% of participants felt that their income did not support renting or buying within the state — and 36% of those who don’t own a home said they were putting off buying a house. The lack of affordable housing, as well as skyrocketing insurance premiums, also played a role in the latter decision.

Stevens said housing markets everywhere are reflecting these volatile changes.

“We did ask a question: are you considering moving out of Florida due to the rise in housing prices? And only 11% of our respondents said yes, and I think that might be because maybe they don't really know where else to go,” she said. “I think inflation is kind of happening all over the country.”

Feelings about student loan forgiveness were another issue measured.

“Our results show that a majority of Floridians do support the Biden administration's recent decision to continue to extend the pause of student loans,” she said. “So over two-thirds, about 64% of Floridians, support an extension of the student loan repayment pause.”

The researchers surveyed a group of 600 adult Floridians representing state demographics from March 31 to April 12, 2022, with a confidence level of 95% and a +/- 4 margin of error.

I am WUSF’s Rush Family Radio News Intern for spring 2022.
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