It is getting more expensive to be poor.Submitted by Diamond Dog on Tue, 04/08/2014 - 13:37
Inflation May Hit the Poor Hardest
By Ben Casselman | fivethirtyeight.com
It’s getting more expensive to be poor.
Over the past two years, prices have risen more quickly for many of the things that low-income households spend a lot of their money on, such as rent and utilities. As a result, these households — families earning less than $20,000 — are experiencing a higher rate of inflation than the public at large even as their wages have stagnated, according to a FiveThirtyEight analysis of government data.
We tend to talk about inflation as a single number affecting the whole economy. But everyone experiences a slightly different rate of inflation for the simple reason that we all spend money on different things. The price of cigarettes matters primarily to smokers; the price of diapers affects mostly parents of young children; and the price of gas is a much bigger deal to someone with an 80-mile daily commute than to someone who only takes the car out for weekend excursions.
Overall inflation has been muted in recent years; consumer prices were up just 1.1 percent in February from a year earlier, far below their long-run average. But prices are rising a bit faster for both the poor and the wealthy, who have been hit harder by the ongoing increase in college tuitions. The result: from February 2012 to February 2014, the poorest fifth of households have experienced an annual rate of inflation that’s about two tenths of a percentage point higher than the population as a whole. The richest fifth have experienced inflation about a tenth of a point higher.