Inflation news articles affects everyone, from rising rent to greater heating expenditures, but it is especially difficult for those with limited financial resources.
Consumer prices in March were 8.5 percent higher than a year ago, according to the Labor Department, the largest increase since December 1981.
While no one enjoys paying more for haircuts or hamburgers, rising inflation is particularly difficult for low-income households, whose spending is largely geared toward basics like gasoline and groceries, which have witnessed some of the most significant price increases.
Gas prices have increased by 48 percent in the last year, while grocery prices have increased by 10%.
To begin with, these families’ family budgets are lean, so when inflation eats away at their limited spending power, something has to give.
Take Laura Kemp, a widow in Muldrow, Okla., who claims her heating cost was $306 last month, up from $125 a year ago.
She explains, “I live in a two-bedroom mobile house.” “I’m not sure what’s going on.” It’s becoming bigger every month, and it’s approximately a third of my income.” Kemp feels as if she’s losing ground, with even minor luxuries like a McDonald’s dinner out of reach.
“I’ll have $200 left by the 10th of the month,” she says. “My $200 a month goes into my gas tank now.”
“I’m not going to make it to the end of the month,” she continues. “I can’t even buy a Big Mac right now – a Big Mac meal costs $8.”
Kemp intends to grow a vegetable garden when the weather heats up in the hopes of lowering her food costs. She’s chosen seeds for tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, and eggplants, and she’s eyeing part of her brother’s land, which also happens to be where her mobile home is.
Prices are rising everywhere, from groceries to rent.
Charlene Rye, who retired after 28 years in the poultry industry, much of it in chicken-processing factories, is having to make difficult decisions after chicken costs, like everything else in the grocery store, have risen substantially in the last year.
“You have to be a little more cautious in terms of what you cook, make, and buy,” she explains.
Rye has been receiving assistance from a Sallisaw, Oklahoma, food pantry, which has been busier as food prices have risen.
The cost of housing is particularly painful for Terrie Dean. She and her adolescent son are staying in a motel in Sallisaw for the time being. She receives disability income of roughly $1,600 per month, putting an apartment out of reach for the time being.
“They demand the first month’s rent and a deposit, not realizing that’s all this family has,” Dean explained.
Housing costs roughly 45 percent of a family’s income for low-income households, compared to 18 percent for upper-income families. In the last year, the cost of housing has increased by 5%.
Gas prices are notoriously difficult to bear.
Food and transportation are considerably more unequally distributed, accounting for 9% of high-income households’ budgets but 26% of low-income households’.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, gasoline prices soared to an all-time high of $4.33 per gallon in March, not accounting for inflation.
Increased gas prices may have an influence on family relationships. Patricia Bridgmon of Chicago had to cut back on trips to her elderly mother in Hammond, Indiana, due to rising energy prices.
“With the gas, it’s simply horrific,” she says. “Three days a week, I generally go to see her.” Because of the gas, it’s now down to one.” Kemp, the widow who has seen her heating expense rise, has reduced her trips to Fort Smith, Ark., roughly 35 minutes from her house in eastern Oklahoma.
“I enjoy visiting art museums and thrift stores, as well as just getting out,” she remarked. “However, I’m no longer able to go.”
Meanwhile, Rye, the retired poultry worker, must consider the cost of going to a larger, farther distant store vs buying closer to home, where costs are greater even in good times.
The Federal Reserve intends to take a strong stance against inflation.
While all Americans are facing rising prices, the impact is borne disproportionately by households with fewer means, according to Brainard. “That is why the most essential challenge we have is to bring inflation down while maintaining a recovery that benefits everyone.”
Last month, the Federal Reserve began hiking interest rates in an effort to curb consumer demand and keep prices under control.
The central bank began by gradually increasing interest rates by a quarter percentage point. Markets, on the other hand, foresee the Fed becoming more aggressive, with a half-point hike largely forecast at the next Fed meeting in early May.
Despite predictions that March would be the peak of inflation, consumer prices are expected to continue to rise at an uncomfortably fast rate for the remainder of the year, putting a particular hardship on the families who can least afford it.