Pace of inflation at 30 year high; New Yorkers notice

Local News

BEDFORD-STUYVESANT, Brooklyn — We’re all having to pay more than 6% more for purchases than we did a year ago. That’s what federal statistics released on Wednesday show. They also indicate that consumer prices rose by about a penny on the dollar over the course of last month. On the ground, that translates into people feeling financially squeezed.

Wendy Mitchell lives in Bed-Stuy and was in line in Restoration Plaza on Wednesday morning to receive free groceries provided by local New York City Councilmember Robert Cornegy’s office. Mitchell was supplementing what she’d already purchased from a local produce vendor.

She said she’d bought “two mangoes, a bag of oranges, grapes, plums,” and was surprised to have been charged “$17 and change” for her purchase. 

When asked to compare that price to what she’d paid a year ago, Mitchell let out a laugh.

“Ten,” she’d said, amused by the difference. “That’s a lot.

Other people in the free groceries line had various reasons for being there, but they all face the same reality as everyone in this economy, including local resident Angela Ward.

“I see the different prices going up, up, up,” she said. “Everything is going up, except income.”

Labor Department figures actually show wages are up from a year ago. But price increases for everything from groceries to gasoline having risen at such a high rate year-to-year, that it erodes some of those higher wages. The situation is even worse for people on fixed incomes.

There are also people like Lakhear Memthoud.  He’s a small businessman — he owns his taxi medallion. That’s a financial strain in itself, as PIX11 News has been recently reporting. With higher inflation, it’s now costing him more and more to fill up his tank and stay in business. Since the city, and not he, sets the price of the fare, Memthoud simply has to make do.

“I’m paying the extra money, not the customer,” he said.  “I’m the one paying the price.”

He said that “of course” it stings his wallet.

Small businesses like his are among the things that Diana Ransom analyzes as executive editor of Inc. Magazine.  

“We’re asking businesses to get crafty,” she said in an interview. “They’re stepping up in a big way.”

However, she added, the outlook regarding inflation for the short term is not rosy.  

“Until we get to that sort of happy place where we plateau in prices,” Ransom said, “this is going to be people making tough decisions.”

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