Inflation is rising and people are jumping crazy: NPR

Some consumers are wondering why President Biden is not doing more to counter rising prices across the economy.

Patrick Semansky / AP


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Patrick Semansky / AP


Some consumers are wondering why President Biden is not doing more to counter rising prices across the economy.

Patrick Semansky / AP

Bernice Rink did not have to watch this week’s conspicuous inflation report to know that prices are going to be painfully high. She can see it every time she goes to the supermarket.

“My God,” says Rink, “you can hardly buy groceries.”

Grocery prices have risen during the pandemic, thanks to a toxic combination of staff shortages and supply chain problems. Rising prices are hurting national sentiment and imposing a political toll on President Biden.

Grocery prices in October were 5.4% higher than a year ago, according to the latest consumer price index. Total inflation was 6.2%, the highest annual figure in more than three decades.

High inflation poses a particular challenge to people with fixed incomes like Rink, a retiree in Washington, DC. She is addicted to social security, and her monthly payment of $ 1,578 does not extend as far as it used to.

“You have chicken, which is the cheapest thing you can buy – $ 11,” Rink says angrily. “Not a family package, mind you. An ordinary package. Everything has increased.”

According to the government statement, chicken prices in October were 8.8% higher than a year ago. Beef and pork prices have risen even more.

Energy prices are among the biggest drivers behind inflation. Rink pays almost 50% more for gasoline now than she did a year ago, and 28% more for the natural gas she uses to heat her house.

“It’s going to be a really cold winter,” she says. “Do I have a roof over my head? Or do I pay to stay warm?”

A motorist fills a vehicle with gasoline at a Shell station on Nov. 5 in Denver. Energy prices are among the biggest drivers behind inflation.

David Zalubowski / AP


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David Zalubowski / AP


A motorist fills a vehicle with gasoline at a Shell station on Nov. 5 in Denver. Energy prices are among the biggest drivers behind inflation.

David Zalubowski / AP

High energy prices are a particular burden for the elderly

Winter bills are likely to be even higher for those addicted to heating oil, like Nick Apodiakos, who shares a house in Boston with his 94-year-old mother.

“For my mother, even though it’s 100 degrees outside, she’s still cold,” says Apodiakos. “Now it’s getting colder.”

Fuel oil prices have risen by 59% in the past year.

Nick’s mother, Rose Apodiakos, is also dependent on social security.

Like others on the program, her benefits will increase by 5.9% in January. It is the largest increase in the cost of living that the government has provided in four decades. But it has already been overshadowed by inflation.

“Before, you went to the store, and if you had $ 100, you could buy four bags of groceries and be happy,” says Nick Apodiakos. “Now you’re lucky to get a bag. Milk, orange juice, eggs. Plus the oil for the house, the water bill. It’s just crazy. It’s so much money. How is anyone going to survive?”

Inflation may get worse before it gets better

Both the White House and the Federal Reserve have described this rise in inflation as a temporary byproduct of the pandemic, which has tightened supply chains and kept a lot of people out of work.

Like the pandemic, however, price increases do not appear to disappear in the near future.

“I think we’re going to see inflation get worse before it gets better,” said Sarah House, an economist at Wells Fargo.

In most times in the history of the grocery store, prices have risen. Wage increases and a pending social security boost have not been followed. The hardest hit are low-income households and vulnerable populations such as the elderly, who tend to live on a steady income.

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In most times in the history of the grocery store, prices have risen. Wage increases and a pending social security boost have not been followed. The hardest hit are low-income households and vulnerable populations such as the elderly, who tend to live on a steady income.

Mario Tama / Getty Images

Inflation is no longer limited to a few, pandemic-plagued categories such as timber or used cars. An upward pressure on prices is spreading throughout the economy.

“There is nowhere for consumers to hide,” House says. “It suggests that inflation is becoming more sticky.”

Air fares were down in October, but they are likely to ease again as travel rises. Rents are also rising.

While wages are rising, especially in industries like restaurants, many companies are passing on these extra labor costs to customers in the form of higher prices.

Biden under pressure

All of this weighs on American attitudes. ONE study from the University of Michigan released Friday shows that people are as gloomy about the economy as they have been for a decade. One in four people said their standard of living had dropped this month due to inflation.

It poses a serious political responsibility to Biden if approval assessments of the economy has fallen to below 40 per cent.

Biden recognizes the difficulties that higher prices cause.

“Everything from a gallon of gasoline to a loaf of bread costs more,” he told a Baltimore crowd Wednesday. “And it’s worrying, even though wages are rising.”

Biden said in a statement that reversing inflation is a top priority for him. But many voters will not be satisfied until prices start to flatten out.

Nick Apodiakos wonders why the Biden administration is not doing more, even though the White House’s options are limited.

“I think the White House is not so much focused on the things that people need,” he says.

“I understand that climate change is an important thing,” he says, nodding to another administrative priority. “Focus on climate change, but also focus on price change.”

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