Inflation causing gas, housing, food costs to rise while wages stay relatively unchanged

National

(AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The rising cost of rent, food and transportation makes inflation the name of the game as congressional leaders work to find a compromise that will make President Joe Biden’s economic agenda functional and move past another potential government shutdown in January.

A recent deal between Democrats and Republicans in Washington only pushed a shutdown back a few months, with a temporary debt limit extension to go through December.

The third quarter weekly earnings report released Oct. 19 from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics showed a rise in weekly median wages compared to the third quarter in 2020. The report averages the wages of full-time hourly and salaried workers, 115.3 million members of the U.S. workforce.

Still, wages themselves are not keeping up with increasing costs in housing, food and transportation, the top three categories for spending in the U.S. While earnings per week for full-time and salaried employees rose 0.7 percent, the Consumer Price Index shows gains of 5.3 percent, according to BLS data.

Part-time workers and those who take part in the nation’s gig economy are not included in the wage report.

Gas prices are also on the rise, with the national average price per gallon now at $3.34 per gallon, according to AAA’s gas price log, which is updated daily.

A recent report from CoreLogic, a financial services company, shows the cost of rent rose 9.3 percent as of August 2021, putting the rising costs of food, transport and housing into sharp contrast with the minimal gains in America’s wage growth over the same period of time.

A BLS publication from Oct. 13 showed that as of September, the CPI had increased 0.4 percent and that over the past 12 months, all items in the CPI had increased 5.4 percent before seasonal adjustments.

Turning to Florida and Tampa Bay, the trend is comparatively similar.

Gas costs in Florida are currently averaging $3.24 per gallon, though slightly lower or slightly higher depending on which part of the state you’re in.

Zooming in on food costs indexes, BLS said prices had risen 0.9 percent over the same year-long period, while energy increased 1.3 percent.

In Tampa Bay, the CPI went up 6.1 percent from September 2020 to September 2021. The food and energy index showed a 5.3 percent increase in Tampa Bay, with food more specifically rising 3.1 percent while the energy index rose 23.6 percent over the past year.

A Rent.com report showed that the rent costs in Tampa have gone up 12.6 percent compared to last year. While the same report says utility costs aren’t unreasonable, 2.1 percent lower than the national average, that could change as Tampa Electric Company has its first rate case hearing with the Florida Public Service Commission for proposed rate increases on Thursday.

In August, The FPSC approved a separate rate increase for both TECO and Duke Energy to pay for higher natural gas fuel costs used for powering Florida homes and businesses.

Nationally, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that as of August, personal income had increased only 0.2 percent while disposable income had increased 0.1 percent. Meanwhile, the same report showed that personal consumption expenditures had risen by 0.8 percent nationally, or a collective $130.5 billion from January to August 2021.

Changes aren’t all low. Florida’s quintile growth rate for its Gross Domestic Product in the second quarter rose 6.7 percent, matching the national average.

The rise in GPD came from contributions by accommodation and food services, information, professional, scientific and technical services, according to BEA data. Overall, accommodation and food services increased 88.7 percent across the country and all 50 states saw economic growth.

A report from the BEA on wage growth and the effect of federal pandemic response dollars on personal income showed an increase of $53 billion in August 2021.

All of the rising costs come ahead of an ongoing showdown in Congress that could decide political futures as Biden pushes his $3.5 trillion economic agenda, and support among Democrats remains fractured.

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