(Trends Wide) — Although Thanksgiving is still two weeks away, Travis Moffatt and his fiancee, Britnie Walston, have already bought three apple pies for their family dinner and stored them in the freezer.
The Baltimore couple wanted to make sure they could get their hands on dessert before food prices skyrocketed or cakes disappeared from the grocery store. They are paying $ 5 for almond milk and $ 7 for cereal, each with an increase of $ 2 in recent weeks.
And they are shelling out more for eggs, water, juices, broccoli, frozen dinners, and other items.
Moffatt, 32, is feeling the impact of consumer price inflation, which has risen 6.2% in the past 12 months, the biggest increase in more than 30 years. This man, who has been unemployed since the start of the pandemic, receives $ 250 a month in food stamps.
“That’s happening quickly because of the rising cost of groceries,” said Moffatt, who this week got an offer for a contract job helping small businesses apply for federal loans.
Americans across the country are grappling with rising inflation, particularly when it comes to gas, gasoline, new and used vehicles, and food. Higher prices are affecting salary increases and annual cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security benefits and food stamps.
Although employers have raised wages in hopes of filling their multitude of job openings, workers are actually worse off than before the coronavirus pandemic began.
Compensation adjusted for inflation is down 0.6% since December 2019, said Jason Furman, a nonresident senior researcher at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, citing the latest federal employment cost index data.
Rising prices are also undermining consumer confidence. They expressed greater uncertainty about next year’s inflation rate than at any time in nearly 40 years, according to the October University of Michigan consumer confidence survey.
That concern helped offset the positive impact of higher income expectations and the receding pandemic.
Additionally, 1 in 5 households, particularly the oldest and poorest Americans, spontaneously mentioned a decline in living standards due to rising inflation, according to the survey.
“For now, people are unhappy and inflation is the reason,” said Josh Bivens, research director at the left-leaning Institute for Economic Policy, who believes price increases will moderate next year.
For those living on a fixed income, rising prices are particularly difficult to handle.
Sharon Henderson, 69, has turned to YouTube to learn how to shop and cook more economically since she and her husband, Paul, depend on Social Security and a small pension.
His grocery bill has skyrocketed to around $ 300 per visit, up from the roughly $ 200 it cost before the pandemic.
Henderson, who lives in Milwaukie, Oregon, has started boiling beans and making her own burritos, instead of buying frozen ones at the grocery store. She is cooking casseroles and buying fewer organic frozen meals at Safeway.
The daily trips the Hendersons made to their local coffee shop for a cup of coffee, a sandwich and a snack were cut down to three times a week. The price of coffee has risen 60 cents in recent months, he said.
The couple also had to delay remodeling their manufactured home after lumber prices soared from $ 10 to $ 97 for a sheet of plywood earlier this year. They have restarted work since prices fell. One sheet now costs $ 14.
“It’s a big nickel and dime, but those nickels add up,” said Henderson, who worked as a graphic designer until she lost her job last fall. “It’s scary. We have a little savings and I’m worried that all of that is going to be lost.”
Higher prices for other building materials, coupled with supply shortages, make it difficult for Wally Izzard, a union roofer, to get jobs. The Columbia, Missouri, resident has worked only sporadically since late summer.
At the same time, gas prices skyrocketed, reducing non-essential travel. She doesn’t know next time she will make the 10-hour trip to see her family in Colorado.
Izzard, 42, filled up his 2017 Hyundai Sonata this week and was surprised to see that it cost $ 40, even though he still had a quarter tank of gas.
“Normally, if I put in $ 40, I go back in to get a change or put it back on my card,” he said. “It wasn’t even empty. It’s crazy.”