Inflation is starting to have a noticeable effect on workers’ expenditures.

Researchers at Principal Financial Group Inc., Des Moines, Iowa, have published that finding in the latest Principal Financial Well-Being Index survey report, which draws on a survey of 1,117 employees ages 18 and older at businesses with 10 to 1,000 employees. The researchers also surveyed 673 retirees.

About 56% of the workers and 55% of the retirees surveyed said they have cut back on spending due to challenging economic conditions, the researchers say.

In the fourth quarter of 2007, only about a third of participants said economic conditions were causing them to rein in spending, the researchers say.

Only 3% of workers say they are cutting back on retirement plan contributions because of inflation and economic softness, but 56% say they are driving less, and 36% say they are trying to reduce spending on basic necessities.

About 61% of the workers and 49% of the retirees say they are compensating for higher grocery prices by eating out less.