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American Families Struggling Under Weight of Inflation

Jonathan Walker
Jonathan loves talking politics, economics and philosophy. He carries unique perspectives on everything making him a rather odd mix of liberal-conservative with a streak of independent Austrian thought.
Published: December 22, 2021
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DEC. 10: People walk out of a store along a busy shopping street in Manhattan on Dec. 10, 2021 in New York City. The Labor Department announced on Friday that Inflation in November accelerated at its fastest pace since 1982. Americans are paying more for goods such as gasoline, food, health care and rent. (Image: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Last month, the rate of inflation rose by 6.8 percent, the highest jump in around four decades. Families in America are now getting stressed out by the ever-increasing prices of goods and services.

According to data from the U.S. Labor Department, the price of gas is up by 58 percent since last year while utilities have risen by 25 percent. When it comes to food, prices of flour, apples, eggs, coffee, and milk have jumped by six percent to eight percent, chicken by nine percent, and bacon by 21 percent. Thanksgiving was one of the costliest ever in several years. 

In some areas, NGOs are trying to help financially struggling families as much as possible. Nonprofit Food Helpers are using people dressed as Santa Claus to distribute winter coats, cookies, turkeys, and provisions at the Country Thrift Market near Pittsburgh. According to director of marketing, Justin McAtee, many families usually avoid seeking help even if they are in financial trouble.

“They are too proud to take money from the government and stay home and do nothing, yet also find themselves unable to provide for their families properly because of the rising costs… Few in society or government sees their need, because they have jobs… The families that are here are essentially invisible,” McAtee told the New York Post.

According to a survey conducted by Country Financials in October, 88 percent of Americans were very concerned about inflation. A recent Economist/YouGov poll showed that 53 percent of Americans believed the economy was getting worse. Around 56 percent see inflation as a serious problem while 27 percent feel it is somewhat serious. The worry about inflation was present across all income groups, whether the survey participants earned less than $50,000 per year or more than $100,000 annually.

According to Bankrate’s December Financial Security Index, around two-thirds of Americans do not expect their financial situation to improve next year, with over half of them blaming inflation for their pessimism. Seventy percent of the participants believe their financial situation will get worse and 54 percent expect no change in their money situation, citing inflation as the reason.

“Inflation worries have dragged consumer confidence to a decade low and is the top reason Americans don’t expect their finances to improve, and particularly to get worse… This feeling goes far beyond gas prices, as inflation has broadened out and consumers see higher prices at every turn,” Bankrate Chief Financial Analyst Greg McBride said in a statement.

A Penn Wharton University of Pennsylvania Budget Model (PWBM) analysis published on Dec. 15 estimates average American households to spend around $3,500 more in 2021 to achieve the same level of consumption of goods and services that they had in 2020 and 2019. Lower-income households will spend 7 percent more on goods and services this year. For high-income households, this number is at 6 percent. 

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden’s multi-trillion dollar Build Back Better Act is facing opposition as many people worry that the initiative might end up worsening inflation by pumping more money into the economy. In an interview with Fox News, Democrat Senator Joe Manchin insisted that he will not be voting for the proposal due to the ongoing inflationary situation.

“If I can’t go home and explain it to the people of West Virginia, I can’t vote for it. I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation. I just can’t. I’ve tried everything possible. I can’t get there… Inflation is real. It’s not going away anytime soon. We don’t know when the end will come,” Manchin stated.