Inflation in 2022: A Look at How Prices Changed Throughout the Year

dozen of eggs
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The last two consumer price index (CPI) reports gave cash-strapped consumers a reason to be optimistic. There is now solid evidence that inflation is finally on the wane — but 2022 will be the subject of college economics courses for generations to come. 

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The overall inflation rate peaked just above 9% in the summer, but many of the most critical items that the typical household simply can’t go without suffered double-digit increases. The dramatic rise in gas prices grabbed many of the headlines, but there was plenty of pain beyond the pump — and unlike gas, costs in some categories never fell back down to Earth. From the fuel you use for heat to the food your family eats, these are the items that put big dents in household budgets in 2022. 

Heating Oil

  • Cost in January: $3.39
  • Cost in October: $5.70

The price for a gallon of residential heating oil jumped by 15% from $4.62 to $5.33 in a single week at the start of October. The October price was at a record high, not seen since the Energy Information Administration (EIA) began keeping records in 1990. It’s above $5 for only the second time in history — the other time was in March. With cold weather setting in, the EIA predicts households will pay 28% more to heat their homes this year than last. In October of last year, a gallon of heating oil cost $3.28. In October 2020, it was $2.13, meaning that the cost has more than doubled in just two years.

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Eggs

  • Cost in January: $1.50
  • Cost in October: $3.42

In October 2021, a dozen eggs cost an average of $1.82. This October, families paid nearly twice that amount at the grocery store. According to CNBC, most of the blame can be traced to a highly contagious strain of avian influenza that kills 90%-100% of the chickens it infects. Roughly 37 million egg-laying hens have died this year, dropping production from 9.18 billion eggs in September 2021 to 8.83 billion in September 2022. The price per dozen jumped by 10% in October alone.

USPS Small Flat-Rate Box

  • Cost in January: $8.45
  • Cost in October: $9.45

USPS raised its shipping and delivery rates for the year nearly across the board in January, and while its current prices will remain the same until new increases take hold in 2023, the price hikes reflect rising shipping costs industry-wide. The most recent CPI report shows that the cost of delivery services rose by 13.9% between October 2021 and October 2022, and there’s little relief expected on the horizon. Both FedEx and UPS both announced 6.9% increases for their services starting in 2023.

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Butter 

  • Cost in January: $3.67
  • Cost in October: $4.85 

The price of a pound of butter is sky-high with no immediate end in sight, and most of the trouble can be traced to overall inflation and the climate. According to the USDA, milk production fell by 1.4% in January as an ongoing labor shortage and the rising cost of animal feed made it more expensive for dairy farmers to buy and maintain cows. Those factors were exacerbated by environmental disasters, most notably droughts, floods, extreme temperatures and frequent and intense storms. In August 2021, there were 362.7 million pounds of butter in storage compared to about 282.6 million pounds in August 2022.

Airfare

  • Cost in January: $216.30
  • Cost in October: $289.22

According to the St. Louis Fed, the average price for airfare has fallen from its May peak of $336, when fuel prices were near record highs, but the mercy for air travelers has been limited. The September CPI report released in October showed a month-over-month spike of 0.8%, double the monthly inflation rate for all items. But annually, airfare was up by nearly 43%, according to Forbes, the highest increase on record and more than five times the overall inflation rate of 8.2%.

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Pet Food

  • Cost in January: $159.18
  • Cost in October: $180.59

According to the St. Louis Fed, the average cost of pet food remained remarkably consistent for the last decade, holding steady at about $150-$155 per household per month since 2012. That all changed in 2022 when the cost of feeding America’s cats and dogs rose faster than inflation for human food. When overall inflation peaked above 9%, the year-over-year inflation rate for pet food was in the double digits.

A report from Rover showed that pet owners were paying more not just for food, but for treats, toys and visits to the vet than they had in 2021.

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About the Author

Andrew Lisa has been writing professionally since 2001. An award-winning writer, Andrew was formerly one of the youngest nationally distributed columnists for the largest newspaper syndicate in the country, the Gannett News Service. He worked as the business section editor for amNewYork, the most widely distributed newspaper in Manhattan, and worked as a copy editor for TheStreet.com, a financial publication in the heart of Wall Street's investment community in New York City.
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