TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay area is first in the country for a lot of things. We’ve got some of the prettiest beaches, best restaurants, and best cities to visit. But right now we’re also leading the country in inflation rates.
Nationally the rate has gone up 7.5%, the highest it's been in 40 years. In the Tampa Bay area, the rate soared to 9.6% in the last year.
Economists Mike Snipes, an instructor at USF, said all of those firsts are a reflection of our tourism-based economy.
"We’ve got the highest inflation rate in the entire country here, why is that? Well, it's because of how our economy is set up," said Snipes.
Snipes said it's about supply and demand. He said the pandemic continues to cause labor issues causing companies to fall short on manufacturing and transporting supplies. In return, he said prices are going up to offset the lack of supplies.
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"The core issue is that we’ve got a lot of people buying stuff that’s just not there to buy, and that’s what putting upward pressure on price more than anything," said Snipes.
He said with people flocking to the Tampa Bay area to visit and live, we’re being impacted by supply and demand the most.
"The Tampa Bay area is getting hit from all different angles," said Snipes.
Especially with rent prices increasing by 35% in our area, pushing some who live and work here out of their homes.
"Okay, yeah maybe average wages are going up, but if prices are going up faster than my wages are going up, then my standard of living is getting worse," said Snipes.
Which is what’s happening. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that nationally, wages decreased by over 3% last year.
Snipes said he's unsure if there is an end in sight to the rising inflation rates.
"If we focus on profits over people, then society is going to reflect that. What it’s really going to boil down to is just getting wages where they need to be," said Snipes.