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Inflation Is Falling But Michigan Biden Voters Say Otherwise

On the campaign trail, President Joe Biden is touting a post-COVID-19 economy that has roared back to life and continued to shatter expectations in recent months.

Worries of a recession are fading, unemployment remains very low and average wages are on the rise again after years of being overtaken by high inflation, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics .

But in the grocery aisles in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Teresa Johnson, a single mother, struggles to make ends meet for her and her 11-year-old daughter despite the cooling prices.

She told ABC News that she is still recovering from the financial hardships of the pandemic and has yet to see the benefits of the recent economic upturn.

“I’m living paycheck to paycheck because it’s so hard really to save,” Johnson said in an interview with ABC News Contributing Political Correspondent Rachael Bade.

“I won’t be able to retire, especially with a child that I have here at home. I don’t see it coming. I’m going to have to work until about 70 or 72,” Johnson said.

As voters look ahead to the 2024 presidential election, Johnson is among the 74% of Americans who said the economy was very important to them, according to an ABC News/Ipsos poll from November.

A January ABC/Ipsos survey also found that Americans were broadly unhappy about the state of the economy, including the high prices and the high interest rates intended to fight inflation — and they mostly disapproved of Biden’s handling of the issue, despite his messaging and factors like high employment.

People like Johnson, in the key battleground of Michigan, offer a personal glimpse into those views, which could influence the next election.

A registered Democrat, Johnson told ABC News that while she voted for Biden in 2020, she is looking at other presidential candidates this year. “Right now, I’m kind of disappointed,” she said.

“As far as the economy, I’m upset as a working adult, mother and grandmother,” she said. “I don’t feel that there’s been enough changes as of now.”

Though Johnson described herself as “on the other side,” she said she likes former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, a long shot challenger to Trump in the Republican primary.

For years, Johnson has been on a fixed disability income — but due to rising costs seen since inflation jumped in 2021 and 2022, the 66-year-old former state employee has had to take a part-time job in a school cafeteria.

The climb in food and gas prices pushed her already-tight budget to the brink and the financial pinch has meant making some tough choices: prioritizing food sales over food quality and choosing cheaper cuts of meat for dinner.

“I love Honeycrisp, but $8 to $9 for a bag of apples? That’s not good. That is really high. I can’t afford that,” Johnson told Bade, adding that it’s been a couple of months since she’s been able to have a large Sunday family dinner.

“It’s not feasible anymore because of the price of food,” Johnson said.

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