News / USA

Americans Feeling Pinch from Inflation

Multimedia

Jeff Swicord

Inflation is hitting U.S. consumers hard.  The last era of severe inflation was in the 1970s, when prices and wages spiraled upward.  This time, while the official inflation rate is still relatively moderate, wages are stagnating and prices for essentials like food and fuel are rising.

Ashwarya and Alok Sharma and their two children emigrated to the United States from India 10 years ago.  They are now U.S. citizens.  Like most Americans, they are feeling the financial pinch from inflation.  Consumer prices overall are rising at a 2.7 percent annual rate, while average hourly wages increased by just fraction of one percent.

Alok Sharma says something has to give. “It is hitting both ways because you don’t get well paying jobs, and you don’t get a raise.  And then inflation hits you on the other side," she said.

Economists say energy and food costs are driving inflation, and Americans are looking for answers.  The Sharmas live in a suburban neighborhood north of Washington D.C.  They work in the computer field and commute 65 kilometers round trip each day to work.  Gasoline prices have risen about 26 cents per liter during the past year.

Alok Sharma says that is taking a big bite out of his family's budget.  “Our gas bill has gone up 40, 50 percent," he said.

The Sharmas are vegetarians.  They eat a lot of fresh vegetables.  And they drink a lot of milk, which Ashwarya Sharma says has doubled in price. “Like almost a year back it was $2 a gallon [i.e., about 53 cents per liter].  Now it is $4 a gallon [about $1.06 per liter]," she said.

They estimate that their food costs have risen 25 to 30 percent during the past six months.  Alok Sharma says that if prices continue to increase, his family will have to cut back and consider lifestyle changes. “Still we are in the habit of getting whatever we want, what ever children demand.  Gradually I think we have to make our choices only for cheaper items," said Sharma.

Some say the expanding middle classes in countries like China, Brazil, and India are consuming more resources and driving up prices worldwide.  Other experts say drought in places like Russia, turmoil in the Middle East and a global lack of refinery capacity have driven up food and oil prices.

Economist Danny Leipziger of The George Washington University School of Business says these factors play a role. “I don’t think the middle class in China is going to create rampant global inflation.  But you do have certain markets that are more susceptible.  And you are seeing prices increase in those markets.  Will that lead to a global resurgence of inflation?   Probably not," he said.

Leipziger says oil prices will likely rise in the long-term because it is a finite resource.  

For now, he says, families in the United States will have to deal with price increases.  Because the U.S. economy is climbing out of a deep recession, Leipziger says raising interest rates, a common tool for controlling inflation, could make things worse. “The middle class is taking a big hit.  And we wouldn’t want to see policy makers overreact to inflation at the cost of stalling the recovery in the U.S.  That would be bad policy," he said.

Alok Sharma says his family might need to dip into savings to make ends meet, take fewer trips to visit family in India, and look into organizing a car pool to commute to work.  Hopefully, he says, in a few years, his family's wages will increase and offer some relief.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More