The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased by 7 percent—the fastest witnessed since the summer of 1982—but many Americans are now seeing firsthand how far and wide this red-hot inflationary environment is affecting everyday life.
Fast-rising energy and food prices have grabbed most of the headlines, but beneath the inflationary rubble lies another highly troubling trend—surging rent prices. According to Redfin, the average monthly listed rents in the United States climbed 14.1 percent year-over-year to $1,877 in December—the biggest annual jump since at least February 2019. More popular cities like Austin saw average rent surge by as much as 40 percent, while the average cost of an apartment rose by up to 35 percent in locations like New York City and Miami.
Mortgage Payments Not Immune
Meanwhile, the national monthly mortgage payment for homebuyers increased by nearly 22 percent.
“The growth in mortgage payments has been driven by both climbing prices and climbing mortgage rates,” Redfin’s chief economist Daryl Fairweather said in a statement. “And those rising mortgage costs push more potential homebuyers into renting instead, which pushes up demand and prices for rentals. Mortgage rate increases are accelerating, which will cause both mortgage payments and rent to grow throughout 2022,” he continued.
In Survival Mode
It is against this concerning high-inflationary backdrop in which ordinary, pandemic-weary Americans are trying to make ends meet. That’s why even though the last stimulus check was approved via the American Rescue Plan more than ten months ago, there are still passionate calls demanding that the White House and Congress approve some form of stimulus quickly.
In fact, there are seven stimulus check petitions currently in circulation, which have collectively amassed well over five million signatures. The most popular one is being orchestrated by Denver-area restaurant owner Stephanie Bonin, whose petition recently surpassed its ambitious goal of three million signatures.
“I’m calling on Congress to support families with a $2,000 payment for adults and a $1,000 payment for kids immediately, and continuing regular checks for the duration of the crisis,” the petition reads. “Otherwise, laid-off workers, furloughed workers, the self-employed, and workers dealing with reduced hours will struggle to pay their rent or put food on the table. Our country is still deeply struggling.”
Another petition that has garnered quite a bit of attention is the one launched by the Senior Citizens League, which is demanding $1,400 stimulus checks for Social Security recipients. The nonpartisan seniors' group claims in the petition that “soaring inflation has taken a toll on household finances of retired and disabled Social Security recipients.”
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.