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This Is Good Inflation News? Not If You Need Food, Heat, Or A Place To Live

Shopping aisle. Prices for food, gasoline and housing have shot up recently, adding to Americans' unease about the economy. Source: PxFuel.com.

‘Inflation eased again.” “CPI inflation rate slows to 6%.” “Inflation fell for the eighth straight month in February.” Those are the headlines that greeted the latest Consumer Price Index Report. Why aren’t those ungrateful families celebrating?

Prices in February climbed 0.4% from the month before and 6% from the year before. Both are down slightly from January.

President Joe Biden cheered the news, saying that “today’s report shows annual inflation is down by a third from this summer” and is “the slowest annual increase since September 2021.”

Huzzah!

OK, sure, that 6% year-over-year bump is still three times the average inflation for the past three decades. And sure, it comes on top of the 7.9% jump in prices in February 2022. And, yes, it means that the Consumer Price Index has now risen 15% in the short time Biden has been in office.

But fear not! Because Biden is on top of the situation, and his “inflation reduction act” is clearly working. Right?

The problem with the focus on the overall CPI – which measures cost changes in a “basket of goods” – is that people aren’t buying this basket every month. Most are just trying to make ends meet. They’re trying to feed their families. Keep the lights on. Avoid eviction.

For these people – which is most people – inflation hasn’t moderated. It is far, far worse than the overall number suggests.

The latest CPI data show that the year-over-year price hikes for essentials such as food, electricity, heat, and rent were almost all in double digits in February. Here’s the year-over-year change for:

  • Food at home: 10.2%
  • Electricity: 12.9%
  • Gas for heating: 14.3%
  • Shelter: 8%

Grocery bills have surged a total of 20% since Biden took office. Electric bills are up 24%. Shelter costs have grown 13%.

Gasoline prices dipped by 2% year-over-year in February. So that’s a relief. Except they are still 45% higher than they were in January 2021.

Biden brags that wages are up, too. He’s right. But they haven’t come close to keeping pace with prices.

Average hourly wages have increased just 10.5% since Biden took office. After accounting for the 15% rise in overall prices, that’s a huge pay cut. The costs of feeding a family and keeping the lights on at home are soaring at twice the rate of wages.

It’s criminal that Biden wants to paper over this grim reality, but worse is that the mainstream press provides cover for him.

The current situation for most Americans is stark. The fact that none of the nation’s elites knows or cares reveals how dangerously out of touch they are.

— Written by the I&I Editorial Board

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