Here are the most recent facts, data, and math analysis of prices for working families and homeowners in the USA. The relentless surge in inflation has cast a dark shadow over the livelihoods of working individuals, with particularly devastating impacts on women and minorities. The repercussions of this economic upheaval have been far-reaching, as interest rates continue to wreak havoc on families burdened with loans on homes, credit cards, cars, and student loans.
Meanwhile, the escalating costs of insurance, food, tuition, utilities, fuel, and travel have created a mounting financial strain for households across the board. American workers are losing their retirement savings, their wages are worth less than 3 years ago, and inflation costs everywhere have skyrocketed. Much of the painful costs and increases are due to outdated rules, policies, and regulations on energy, environment, transportation, and combating inflation.
This week, I took my children to a fast food restaurant and spent $68 dollars without a tip on kids meals and drinks. That is almost a 100% increase in food costs in 3 years.
Everyone, including union workers, can now see that raising interest rates only cuts the income and buying power of working Americans while those on fixed incomes with subsidized health care, housing, and utilities feel little of the crushing pain from these policies.
Below is an updated 2023 list of the primary costs for families. This data is shocking as it continues to show that Federal Reserve rate increases actually create inflation on working folks.
22 Key Inflation Indicators
- Mortgage or Rent: Monthly payment for housing. The typical U.S. homebuyer's monthly payment is up nearly 62.5% since President Trump retired as “Commander in Chief.” The monthly payment on a $400,000 home was about $1,600 in 2019, and now it is more than $2,600 each month. That is an extra thousand dollars a month in costs.
- Homeowners/Renters Insurance: This year, Florida homeowners have been hit with a 40% increase by insurance companies. Colorado has now been smacked by double digit increases. In states like Louisiana and Colorado, the cost is more than 3% of family budgets with deductibles typically high at 4%-5%.
- Energy: Costs for electricity, water, gas, and other essential services: More than 20% increases in the last 24 months. Electricity and piped gas are up 21% and 26%, respectively in 2 years.
- Property Taxes: A new 60% increase in property tax bills. Colorado homeowners prepare for 30%-60% increase in property tax bills. Homeowners across Colorado are bracing themselves for another hefty increase.
- Soaring grocery bills. Because of energy costs, supply chain failures, taxes on fuel, and needless involvement in wars, the costs of many grocery items are still up over 30%-50% in the last 2 years. For example, eggs are up over 50%.
- School Lunch was up 305% last year in 2022. This type of activity is another hidden tax on teachers, union workers and employed families.
- Medical expenses, insurance premiums, and prescription costs: On top of these costs rising, insurers plan on a 6% increase next year also. Medicare and Medicaid costs are up dramatically in just the last few years. The LA Times recently slammed health care inflation costs in 2023, saying, “Health premiums may be about to soar.”
- Auto Loans: Monthly payments for financed vehicles. The Washington Post blasted the economy and inflation saying, “Car payments are $1,000 for a lot of consumers.” … Each month.
- Auto Insurance: Coverage for vehicles and drivers. CNBC says rates are going up a whopping 8% this year. CNBC said, “The total average premium for full coverage .. $1,780 per year.”
- Fuel costs for vehicles: Nerd Wallet says this week that prices are going back up. While the price came down from over 5 dollars to about $3.20 in January, it is now back to about $4.00 dollars per gallon which is a bone crushing price on workers The inner cities such as LA, San Fran, and Washington have gas priced over $5 dollars per gallon again which injures minorities the most.
- Child Care: Expenses for daycare, babysitting, or after-school care: For example, the annual cost of infant care in California is about $16,945 which is about $1,412 per month. Child care for a 4-year-old would be about $11,475 per year. High schools in New Orleans and New York are typically much more: $27,235 or more for grades 6th through 12th.
- Homeowners School Taxes: The cost of education is up and homeowners will need to pay the price. Schools pay utilities, insurance, employees, insurance, and more. The burden is passed on to the renters and homeowners.
- Rent Prices: Rent costs are bashing the middle class and the inflation on insurance coverage, wages, fuel, insurance, health care are all causing taxes to go up. USA today recently said, "Over the past two years, the U.S. median rent rose by 18%."
- Tuition, school supplies, and fees for education: The private high school average cost is $15,977 per year.
- Clothing: Expenses for clothing and footwear for family members is more costly due to wage costs, shipping costs, theft and store closures.
- Entertainment: Costs for leisure activities, outings, and hobbies. Based on data from Morning Consult Economic Intelligence, during the period from February 2022 to February 2023, the category of recreation/entertainment experienced a significant decrease in spending compared to the previous year. This reduction in spending can be attributed to consumers dealing with increased prices for various goods and services, which led them to make choices and trade-offs in their expenditures.
- Debt Payments: Payments towards credit cards, student loans, or other debts. Many debt payments have doubled in the last year. Rising interest rates have ensnared households in a relentless cycle of debt, potentially extending financial burdens for years to come. The current economic scenario has the potential to leave some households grappling with indebtedness over an extended period.
- Credit Card Loans: Average interest rates on credit card loans is up almost 50%. Lending Tree shows a chart where rates and loan charges are up over 70% percent in the last 3 years. If the APR was 14% in 2020 and it is now 24%, the change is 71%. People with low credit scores pay more in monthly fees as credit card companies are taking a gamble on high risk borrowers. Some credit cards are charging a monstrous 36% APR which is something you see with hyperinflation nations such as Nigeria.
- Retirement Savings Hit Hard: Funds set aside for retirement have been crushed. The average retiree lost 23% of their savings last year due to a fledgling stock market and bond losses.
- Travel: Expenses for family vacations or trips. Since COVID, travel costs are up a whopping 30%. Nerd Wallet shows: Car rental up 37% and food away from home up 24.6 % since COVID.
- Home Maintenance: Repairs, renovations, and upkeep of the house. The average yearly maintenance cost is about $6,409. This is about a nine percent increase year over year according to a Penn State data.
- Emergency Fund: A fund reserved for unexpected expenses or emergencies. Half of Americans have no savings or zero funds for an emergency.
The gravity of the situation demands immediate attention from policymakers, economists, and financial institutions alike while the President must sit down with mindful leaders such as Scalise and McCarthy to learn about innovative ideas to help working families. Collaborative efforts are necessary to mitigate the multifaceted impact of high inflation, offering relief to those who are most vulnerable Strategies to manage interest rates, control inflation, and provide targeted financial assistance can collectively work towards restoring stability to the lives of the working class Americans.
In the face of these challenges, it is essential to recognize that the effects of high inflation are not confined to economic realms alone. They reverberate through families, communities, and the social fabric as a whole. It is imperative to address these issues comprehensively, promoting innovative policies that safeguard the interests of all segments of society. Only through concerted action can we hope to alleviate the burden on working folks, women, and minorities, fostering an environment where financial security and equitable opportunities are not distant aspirations, but tangible realities for every individual.
Commissioner George Mentz JD MBA CILS CWM® is an international lawyer, speaker, educator, tax-economist, and CEO of the GAFM Global Academy of Finance & Management ®. The GAFM is a ESQ accredited graduate body that trains and certifies professionals in 150+ nations under CHEA ACBSP and ISO 21001 standards. Mentz is also an award winning author and graduate law professor of wealth management for a top U.S. law school.
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