Consumer Prices Reach Four-Decade High, Straining Household Budgets

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If you've done a double-take at the grocery store, you aren't seeing things –– prices are indeed going up.

On Friday (December 10), the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its November report which showed prices not seen since June 1982 –– when Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder's "Ebony and Ivory" was at the top of the Billboard Chart.

Within the last month, prices of consumer goods rose by 6.8% –– a noticeable increase from October's 6.2% price increase.

So what's driving up prices? Experts point to ever-changing energy prices, supply chain holdups, increased consumer demand, and loose monetary policy from the top.

When there's increased demand for goods and supplies are not reliable, prices tend to go up. And consumer spending is way up as of November 2021, compared to January 2020, according to research completed by the nonprofit Opportunity Insights.

As prices go up, though, people already financially strained are most impacted.

"Inflations matters very much for those at the lower ends of income and wealth spectrums," Bankrate economic analyst Mark Hamrick told NBC News. "It is a kind of double blow to lower income households, which suffered from the short but dramatic recession as the pandemic began, serving to exacerbate both wealth and income inequality."

For Black households in the US, the disproportionate rate of unemployment, coupled with the wealth gap that was widening before Covid-19 hit, rising prices are only adding to the strain.

This is especially apparent as pandemic relief programs –– including the child tax credit –– expire. Stimulus checks, and emergency unemployment benefits buffered the blow of the pandemic's economic fallout for some, but rising prices are not making individual economic recovery any less difficult.

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