by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Many families in the United States are finding it harder to get by as they see their bills for various goods and services shoot upward amid the worst inflation in more than four decades.
Inflation increased by 8.5% for the 12 months ending in March, according to data released Tuesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While that headline increase is the most since 1981, some essential expenses have increased by an even greater margin and are weighing heavily on consumers.
Families in the middle and lower classes are getting hit particularly hard. …
… The average price of food at home has ballooned 10% over the past year, according to the consumer price index, a brisker increase from the 6.1% growth in the cost of food at restaurants.
Average weekly grocery spending is now at $148 per week, a big leap from the average pre-pandemic amount of $113.50, according to data from FMI, the Food Industry Association. (People spent even more at grocery stores during the height of the pandemic when eating out was not an option, though.)
Those who are struggling financially are typically less likely to eat at restaurants, making the increased cost of food at home particularly pernicious. Staples such as poultry, fish, and eggs have increased by 13.7% on the year, while the price of beef has risen by 16%. …
… Gas prices are a burden that many consumers don’t have the luxury to cut down on.
For example, many people, especially outside the country’s urban cores, are forced to drive a set distance to work every day in order to bring home a paycheck. …
… The owner of a 2010 Toyota Camry would have had to spend $52.90 to fill it up with gas this time last year. That same person is now forced to shell out $75.85 for the same amount of fuel — an enormous financial burden.