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84 Percent of Voters Say Corporate Greed Is Causing Inflation, Poll Finds

The proportion of Americans who say corporate greed is a “major cause” of inflation has risen by 15 percent since 2022.

A customer shops at a grocery store on February 13, 2024, in Chicago, Illinois.

New polling finds that the vast majority of U.S. voters say that corporate greed has been a major cause of inflation in recent years as corporate profits hit record highs and everyday Americans struggle to get by and afford basic life expenses.

Eighty-four percent of Americans, or about five in six Americans, say that rising prices are caused by corporations wanting higher profits, according to surveys conducted by Navigator Research released Wednesday. This includes 91 percent of Democrats; a significant majority of Republicans, at 79 percent; and a huge proportion of Americans in service industry jobs, at 90 percent.

There has been a significant rise in Americans who say corporate greed is a “major cause” of inflation, with 59 percent of respondents saying as such in Navigator’s January survey, as compared to only 44 percent in January of 2022, when inflation was beginning its precipitous rise. A quarter of respondents said that corporate greed is a “minor cause” of inflation, while only 9 percent said it is “not a cause.”

This belief is supported by evidence and expert testimony from recent years. A report from the Groundwork Collaborative found last month that, just in Q2 and Q3 of 2023, corporate profits accounted for 53 percent of all inflation, compared with 11 percent in the four decades prior to the pandemic.

Inflation has been hurting Americans badly. A recent poll from Bankrate found that 56 percent of Americans say they wouldn’t be able to cover a $1,000 emergency cost with existing savings, while 22 percent of Americans said they don’t have an emergency fund at all — one of the lowest rates Bankrate has ever seen in similar polling.

Food insecurity and homelessness are on the rise, with a recent study finding that a record high of half of renters across the U.S. paid an unaffordable rate for housing in 2022, with median rents rising by 21 percent between 2001 and 2022, adjusted for inflation, while renters’ incomes rose only 2 percent in that time.

Meanwhile, corporations and executives have made out handsomely. Corporate profits surged to a high of $1 trillion in 2021 and 2022, nearly doubling the average yearly profits between 2017 and 2020, an Oxfam analysis found last year. Then, in 2023, profits surged to over $3 trillion year over year, according to a recent U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis report. At the same time, corporations injected trillions into record-high stock buyback programs.

Additionally, Oxfam reported last month that the world’s five richest men more than doubled their wealth between 2020 and 2023, from $405 billion to $869 billion. The report found that the world could see its first trillionaire within the decade at this rate, while poverty would take another 230 years to eradicate.

Rising corporate profits, executives’ growing salaries, and increased stock buyback programs are especially convincing arguments for corporations’ responsibility for inflation, Navigator found. Three-quarters of respondents said that they found statements regarding corporate profits, CEO pay and stock buybacks “very” or “somewhat” convincing of the argument that corporations are playing a large role in price hikes.

Progressives and some Democrats had attempted to rein in corporate profits as inflation hit highs in recent years, with figures like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) calling for windfall taxes on corporate profits in order to calm their exploitative price hikes. However, without support from conservative Democrats or Republicans, the proposals never went anywhere in Congress.

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