ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Money is getting tight for millions of Americans this month. With last-minute holiday shopping coming at a time when consumer prices are the highest they've been in nearly 40 years, understanding the value of the dollar has never been more important.
Prices for U.S. consumers jumped 6.8 percent in November compared to 2020. The surging costs for food, energy, housing and other items are leaving Americans enduring the highest annual inflation rate since 1982.
Fueling inflation has been a mix of factors resulting from the swift rebound from the pandemic recession: A flood of government stimulus, ultra-low rates engineered by the Fed and supply shortages at factories in the U.S and abroad. Manufacturers have been slowed by heavier-than-expected customer demand, COVID-related shutdowns and overwhelmed ports and freight yards.
Employers, struggling with worker shortages, have also been raising pay, and many of them have boosted prices to offset their higher labor costs, thereby adding to inflation.
The result has been price spikes for goods ranging from food and used vehicles to electronics, household furnishings and rental cars.
According to an inflation calculator from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, all that means is if you spent a single dollar at the start of 2020, that same dollar would be worth eight more cents now at the end of 2021.
That doesn't sound like a lot, but the more you spend, the more those eight cents add up. So, if you spent $200 in 2020, current inflation will balloon that to $215.49, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Try the inflation calculator yourself:
Some economists are holding out hope that inflation will peak in the coming months and then gradually ease and provide some relief for consumers. They note that supply shortages in some industries have begun to gradually ease. And while higher energy costs will continue to burden consumers in the coming months, Americans will likely be spared from earlier forecasts that energy prices would reach record highs over the winter.