By Bethany Blankley | The Center Square contributor
(The Center Square) – As Americans prepare for Thanksgiving this year, traveling and cooking a family dinner will be significantly more expensive.
Inflation has increased by more than 6.2% this year, according to the consumer price index (CPI), representing the highest rate of price hikes in nearly 31 years.
In January 2021, before Biden “took over the presidency, annual inflation was at a stable 1.4 percent,” Americans for Tax Reform notes. “While inflation has already hit American families hard, President [Joe] Biden is pushing policies which would make this problem even worse.”
Alfredo Ortiz, president and CEO of the Job Creators Network, argued earlier this year, before inflation and gas prices hit current highs, that “President Biden has repeatedly promised that he won’t raise taxes on American families earning less than $400,000 per year. Yet widespread and growing inflation due to his policies is – at least indirectly – breaking that promise. Call it the Biden inflation tax.”
Those traveling this holiday season can expect to pay more at the pump as gas prices increased 49.6% year-over-year, according to CPI; fuel oil increased 59.1%.
While gathering with friends and family, consumers can expect to pay more to heat their homes, as electricity costs increased by 6.5%, utility gas service increased 28.1%, and propane, kerosene, and firewood increased by 34.7% over the same time period.
Most Americans are already seeing the higher prices at the grocery store. Overall, food costs are up 5.3% from last year. Americans are paying 11.9% more for meats, poultry, fish and eggs. They’re also paying 20% more for bacon and similar products. Pork chops cost 15.9% more than they did last year and uncooked beef steaks cost 24.2% more.
Coffee drinkers are paying 4.7% more. Restaurant prices increased by 5.3% from last year.
For those not staying with family, lodging away from home will cost 22.3% more than last year.
Furniture and bedding costs are up 12% more than last year.
If Americans are planning on camping this holiday season, sporting goods now cost at least 8.7% more than they did last year.
Consumers can expect to pay 6.6% more on appliances, 26.4% more on used cars and trucks, and 9.8% more on new cars and trucks.
According to the most recent consumer inflation expectations survey published by the New York Federal Reserve, short-term inflation expectations, looking one year ahead, rose in October to 5.7%, the highest in the history of the series.
The medium-term inflation expectations, looking three years ahead, remained unchanged from the prior month’s level of 4.2%, also a record high.
While Biden administration officials and Fed policymakers repeatedly claim high inflation is temporary, Ortiz argued inflation “acts the same way as a tax by reducing the value of earnings. It devastates retirees and those on fixed incomes by making them poorer through no fault of their own. And it hurts small businesses, which must constantly raise prices, reducing sales and alienating customers.”
“Not only does inflation harm consumers by increasing household costs, but it can also have long lasting economic damage,” ARP argues, because inflation erodes purchasing power especially when wages don’t increase.
According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, seasonally adjusted real average weekly earnings decreased 0.9% in June prior to inflation skyrocketing. Seasonally adjusted real average hourly earnings have also declined by 1.7% over the last year.
In addition to the CPI, the producer index also increased by 8.6% over 12 months ending in October, the highest since 2008.