Are We Experiencing the Return of Inflation?

Are We Experiencing the Return of Inflation?

By Mary Johnson, editor

Wall Street economists are in the midst of a growing debate over whether we are in for “the return of inflation.”  (Oh, go ahead and snort.  I did too when I first read about this.)

Recently a journalist, familiar with my estimates of cost-of-living adjustments, contacted me for my thoughts on the topic.  Did I think we were staring down rising inflation?  I told him that I needed to see more data.

Since that conversation inflation for certain items has jumped.  In fact consumer price data indicate that the COLA for next year may be the highest since 2019, if the trends continue.  My estimates about the COLA are based on the most current available data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, for what it’s worth.

That said, logic says we may be in for some pretty big swings in the prices of certain items — such as gasoline. Especially troubling for everyone are steep increases in the cost of meats, poultry, processed fish and seafood, milk, fruits and vegetables.  We are spending a lot more than usual trying to maintain a nutritious diet, and this has been going on for months.

On the other hand, much of the other CPI data has been pretty tame.  Housing costs and medical care services are rising, but still more slowly than prior to the pandemic.  I’m in the process of collecting price data for TSCL’s annual report on the Social Security Loss of Buying Power.  If you would like to send in examples of your rising costs, please feel free to do so online at “Share Your Story”