How Much Is Inflation Actually Costing the Average Family Each Month?
Inflation has been a pervasive topic in all forms of media for the past several months. The Department of Labor reported in February that inflation had reached 7.5%, which suggests inflation is at its highest since Jimmy Carter was in office.
We are living through highly unusual times — even if the recent spike in inflation seems worse after coming out of a period of historically low inflation. And while 7.5% is substantial, not everyone is feeling the burden equally.
Some items — such as gas and many groceries — have seen price increases much more dramatic than the average, yet others are naturally below the average.
Hence, some consumers may feel 7.5% is an exaggeration, while some think it’s understated. Here, we’ll break down some of the areas in which price increases have been the steepest, as well as those that have fared better recently. GOBankingRates gathered data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on price changes between January 2021 and January 2022 for this analysis.
Home Heating Oil
Year-over-year increase: 48.24%
Home heating oil has gone up more than 48% since January 2021, a larger price hike than any other item on this list. Home heating oil is mainly for use in boilers and furnaces and in water heaters. The price increased from $2.55 to $3.78 per gallon, so the nominal difference is just $1.23. However, much of that happened between December 2021 and January 2022, when the price went up $0.34 in just one month.
Gasoline, Unleaded Regular
Year-over-year increase: 46.35%
There has been a lot of emphasis on rising gas prices, and it’s not difficult to see why, given the number above. Between January 2021 and January 2022, the average price for a gallon of unleaded gas increased from $2.33 to $3.41, a jump of more than 46%.
And, while the rise in gas prices in the past year was largely due to economic recovery and over-arching inflation, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is putting further pressure on gas prices. Gas prices increased by 45 cents in the first week of March.
Year-over-year increase: 31.29%
Eggs are popular not only for being a lean source of protein but also because they are not very expensive. But eggs are not as affordable as they once were, as inflation has caused a greater than 30% increase in their price. Over the past year, the price of a dozen eggs has gone up from $1.47 to $1.93. And the increase appears to be accelerating, as the price was $1.79 in December 2021 — a 7.82% bump in just one month.
Year-over-year increase: 23.84%
A frequent companion of eggs, bacon also has shot up in price. The one-year price change saw bacon go from $5.83 to $7.22 per pound. That’s an increase of just under $1.40 in one year. However, the data shows that the price was $7.21 per pound in December 2021, so the cost of bacon may have stabilized.
Year-over-year increase: 11.98%
No breakfast would be complete without coffee; and unfortunately, even your morning caffeine isn’t immune to the effects of inflation. The price of coffee hasn’t increased quite as much as the items mentioned previously, but it has still outpaced inflation overall, with a price nearly 12% higher than one year ago. The price has increased 3.42% since December, suggesting the price increase isn’t slowing down.
Year-over-year increase: 5.00%
Bananas are 5% more expensive as of January 2022 compared to the same time in 2021. While that is a higher rate of inflation than we experienced in 2018 and 2019, this is the first item mentioned that is below the current average rate of inflation. Bananas are inexpensive, so a 5% increase amounts to a change in price of $0.60 per pound to $0.63 per pound.
Year-over-year increase: 4.76%
The price of soft drinks has gone up modestly since January 2021, so they haven’t had too much of an impact on people’s pocketbooks. The price of a 2-liter of soda went up from an average of $1.68 in January 2021 to $1.76 in January 2022 — a 4.76% increase. The price increased 2.92% from December 2021 to January 2022, though, so this increase may be accelerating.
Year-over-year increase: 1.28%
The starchy root vegetable is the first of a few items with prices that haven’t kept up with inflation. In fact, potatoes increased just one cent from January 2021 to January 2022, from $0.78 per pound to $0.79 per pound. In other words, the price of potatoes hasn’t even kept pace with historical average rates of inflation.
Year-over-year increase: -2.07%
If tomatoes are your favorite fruit, you can breathe a sigh of relief because tomatoes also haven’t kept up with inflation. Not only that, but tomatoes actually have decreased in price since January 2021. At that point, the price was $1.93 per pound. In January 2022, the price had declined to $1.89 per pound, a decrease of 2.07%. The price was $1.91 in December 2021, so the price may be dropping at an even faster rate now.
Year-over-year increase: -10.64%
There isn’t a single item on the BLS’s list that dropped in price at a rate faster than white flour. In January 2021, the price was $0.47 per pound. Just one year later, the price had declined to $0.42 per pound — a difference of more than 10%. However, the price in December 2021 was $0.39 per pound, so the price has rebounded somewhat as of late.
Methodology: To compare how much inflation costs the average family per month, GOBankingRates sourced the current median prices of select groceries as well as the prices of those same goods month-over-month and year-over-year, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index. GOBankingRates then calculated the differences between the selected datasets, both as percentages and currency. Finally, items were ranked by greatest percentage increase year-over-year. All data was collected on and up to date as of February 28, 2022.
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