Inflation in Tampa Bay area hits 10.2%, outpacing national rate

Grocery Store
Posted at 8:48 AM, Apr 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-12 19:03:06-04

TAMPA, Fla. — As inflation across the nation hit a 40-year-high, inflation in the Tampa Bay area was outpacing the nationwide records.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, inflation in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area was 10.2 percent in March 2022, compared to a national rate of 8.5 percent. BLS found the energy index in the area rose by a 14.6 percent rate over the last two months.

But it wasn't just energy prices driving the rampant inflation. The all items less food and energy index jumped 1 percent from January to March, while the food index rose 2.4 percent in the last two months.

Since last year, the food index prices jumped 8.2 percent in the Tampa Bay area while the energy index soared 31.1 percent. Most of the energy index price increases came due to a 46 percent
increase in the gasoline index.

As prices have kept creeping up, more people are finding themselves in line at the food bank. Every Tuesday, dozens of people drive through the distribution line at Blessings and Hope Food Pantry in Lakeland, so they can put food on the table.

“The line keeps getting longer and longer and longer,” said David Arnold.

Arnold is a retiree and said his income isn’t enough to keep up with the rate of inflation. “It’s horrible because not only just the gas prices going up, inflation. I get a raise in my social security and what is that good for? Nothing,” Arnold said.

For Arnold going to the food bank is one way he can make his money stretch.

“I'm stocking up if I can. If I have extras, I give it to my family and neighbors. I do what I got to do. You just can't sit back and let everything happen. You got to be active, you got to be aggressive, and you got to do what’s right for yourself and your family,” Arnold said.

Nationwide, BLS data showed inflation climbed to 8.5% in March, with costs for food, gasoline, housing, and other necessities squeezing American consumers and wiping out the pay raises that many people have received.

The Labor Department said the 12-month jump in inflation is the biggest year-over-year increase since December 1981 when Ronald Reagan was president.

“If we want to try and address inflation directly, then it’s really going to have to come from some sort of government policy put in into place. So, maybe some of the safety nets that were put into place especially in 2020 with rent help,” said Michael Snipes, Economics Professor at the University of South Florida.

Economists say there’s too much uncertainty to determine if relief is on the way.

“We are seeing some evidence that prices are starting to come back down but they could just as easily spike back up. You know Coronavirus is starting to come back,” Snipes said.

The government’s report also showed that inflation rose 1.2% from February to March, up from a 0.8% increase from January to February.

The Federal Reserve will likely move forward with its plans to continue raising interest rates to fight inflation. It raised its key federal funds rate in March to a range of 0.25% to 0.5%. The Fed is projecting at least six more rate hikes this year.