Economy, rising prices top concerns as voters head to the polls

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President Biden turns focus to gas prices and oil production ahead of midterms

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The economy and rising prices remain top concerns among voters, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. 

The survey, published Oct. 20, found that 79% of voters described the economy as being "very important" in making their decision about how to cast their ballot in the midterm elections. That figure is up 2% from August and 1% from March.

People cast early ballots during the midterm election at the University of Michigan Museum of Art, Nov. 7, 2022. (Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty Images / Getty Images)

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The Pew Research Center survey found that the prices of food and consumer goods, energy and housing ranked highest among economic concerns for Americans, with 73%, 69% and 60% of respondents saying they were "very concerned" about the respective issues.

Inflation has been hovering at painful levels for months, FOX Business previously reported. In September, the consumer price index (CPI) went up 0.4% from August and 8.2% from the prior year.

Overall food costs increased 11.2% year over year in September, rising 0.7% from the previous month, according to the CPI data. The price of groceries jumped 13% from September 2021 to 2022, while the cost of food away from home has gone up 8.5% in the same period.

Customers shop for produce at a store in Rosemead, California, on June 28, 2022. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images / Getty Images)

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported September CPI data that showed energy prices fell 2.1% from the previous month; however, they remain 19.8% higher than 12 months ago.

While gasoline prices fell nearly 5% between August and September, they have soared 18.2% year over year, per the CPI data.

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The national average price for regular-grade gasoline was $3.804 as of Monday evening, down from $3.891 a month ago but up from $3.421 a year ago, according to AAA. The association reported the national average price of regular, unleaded gas hit a record-high $5.016 in mid-June.

A customer pumps gas at an Exxon gas station, May 10, 2022, in Miami. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier / AP Newsroom)

Meanwhile, housing costs as measured by CPI increased on a monthly and annual basis in September, according to the Labor Department.

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Rent prices increased 0.7% month over month and 6.7% year over year. For the homeowner’s equivalent of rent, prices have gone up 0.8% from August.

Housing costs as measured by CPI increased on a monthly and annual basis in September 2022, according to the Labor Department. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File / AP Newsroom)

In an attempt to wrestle inflation close to its 2% goal, the Federal Reserve has raised interest rates multiple times this year, including four back-to-back 75-basis-point hikes. Concerns have grown that the central bank’s aggressive hikes could result in an economic downturn or recession, FOX Business reported.

Pew Research Center said the survey was conducted online Oct. 10-16 among 5,098 U.S. adults.

Megan Henney contributed to this report.

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