Grocery prices hit 40-year high: Inflation, Ukraine has rising costs across the board
Americans — and Alabamians — are paying far more than they did a year ago for a host of goods and necessities.
And the cost of that inflation, according to government statistics, has eaten away at the large wage gains made by large sectors of the public following the “Great Resignation.”
The most visible – and most publicized – increases have come at the gas pump.
According to AAA, the national average for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $4.24. While that average is down 7 cents from a week ago, it’s $1.36 more than the nation was paying a year ago. In Alabama, the current average is $4.03, also $1.36 higher than the state average a year ago.
Gasoline prices were already on the rise, although the impact of the war in Ukraine sent the average into the stratosphere over the past month due to its effect on oil markets.
But earlier this month, the effect of inflation grew sharply when the US Bureau of Labor Statistics released figures showing inflation jumped 7.9% in February. Looking at the consumer price index, which measures goods and services, economists have seen the fastest acceleration in prices since January 1982.
Most of the increases were driven by energy prices. But rapidly rising costs are starting to be felt across much of the economy, where prices were already rising due to supply chain issues, tight markets and the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Take whole milk. According to the US Department of Agriculture, a gallon of whole milk in the Southeast had an average price of $3.72 last month, an increase of 33 cents in just one month. It was also much higher than the national average – $3.56.
And the the price of large shell eggs, the most popular size, rose 31% for the month, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Here’s how much certain prices rose last year, according to the St. Louis Federal Reserve:
Coffee, $5.24, up from $4.67 in January 2021.
Bacon, $6.81 a pound, down from $5.76 a year earlier.
Chicken, $3.21 a pound, down from $2.97.
Orange juice, $2.75 a gallon, down from $2.35 previously.
This is also felt in large articles. Used car and truck prices have risen 41.2% over the past year, while new car prices have risen 12.4% over the past 12 months. The average price of a new car, according to Edmunds.comis just under $45,000. In January, eight out of 10 new car buyers paid more than the list price.
Alabama has seen record increases in home prices, driven not only by inflation, but also by an exceptionally tight market and raging demand. According to the Alabama Center for Real Estate at the University of Alabama, the statewide median sale price in February was $225,568, an increase of 18.3% from a year ago and an increase of 1.9% from January.
Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, said buyers were taking a “double whammy” from rising mortgage rates and escalating prices.