TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The latest report from the Tampa-focused Consumer Price Index by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said inflation in the region is 10.2%. Nationally, the rate is only 8.5%. In February, Tampa’s inflation rate was 9.6% compared to the nation’s 7.5%.
Now, as before, while the whole United States sees prices rise, Tampa’s prices are even higher.
In some respects, Tampa has always been ahead of the curve. In recent months, it’s been focused on how many people are moving to its metro area, rental costs and rising inflation.
When it comes to meat, poultry, fish and eggs, Tampa’s prices were up 24.6% compared to last March, while the U.S. had a 13.7% increase.
Still, not everything in the Tampa metro got more expensive faster than the rest of the country. When it comes to fuel costs for gasoline, Tampa’s prices increased 46% compared to the national 48%. For used cars, Tampa was slightly lower than the national increase, at 35.1% compared to the U.S. rate of 35.3%.
Some food costs like cereal were also lower than the nation, with increases at 5.5% for the Tampa Bay area while the U.S. costs increased 9.4%.
The biggest issues, of course, have remained housing costs.
According to the BLS, while rent increases from March to March were 4.4% nationally, in the Tampa area it was 12.4%. For mortgage payers, or those paying the “owners’ equivalent rent,” the numbers were 4.5% nationally and 9.7% in the Tampa Bay area. The ongoing housing crisis, with limited inventory and expensive materials to build, plus limited space to put construction, has exacerbated a shortage of places to live for all of the people moving to the region.
Rent has gone up as a result. At the same time, mortgages have risen across the U.S. The Federal Reserve increased interest rates generally once already in March, with six more planned. While higher fees for home loans, particularly for second homes, have started to cool the housing market slightly, the costs remain high, particularly in Tampa where many are moving.
In very real terms, for what shoppers will see in the store though, everything is more expensive in Tampa compared to the year before. While the U.S. had a 6.5% increase from year-to-year for all items less food and energy, basically everything besides groceries and fuel and electric, Tampa’s prices for the same item set increased 8.8%, according to BLS.
From January to March, the CPI for the Tampa Bay area rose 2.1%, while from January to March, the national rate rose 1%, from 7.5% to 8.5%. The area’s price increases, particularly with housing, are pushing affordability for residents out of reach.
Even as some prices increased more slowly for the Tampa Bay area, the prices were already higher, and have been for months. While the increases themselves aren’t as high, every increase has hurt consumers when it comes to buying necessities.
With real earnings down 0.8% across the U.S., according to BLS, Americans generally and Tampa residents alike are taking less of their wages home, after buying necessities. The bureau reported the decrease comes from an hourly wage level rise of 0.4% while the CPI rose 1.2%. Overall, BLS reported real average weekly earnings decreased 1.1% in the past month.