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MKE consumers fed up with inflated food and gas prices may have to wait until fall for reprieve

"This is a significant problem, one that we haven't seen for more than 40 years."
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Posted at 5:52 PM, Jun 13, 2022

MILWAUKEE — From gas to food and housing to airfare, the latest U.S. Department of Labor report shows inflation keeps getting worse as we head into summer. The national rate of inflation shows an 8.6 percent increase compared to a year ago.

Here in the Midwest, the federal consumer price index shows average food prices are up 12 percent over the past year, with meat and dairy soaring even higher than that.

"It's not only the gas that's rocketed up, it’s everything,” said Jerry Dallas.

Dallas of Milwaukee says the inflated costs for items he needs to live are becoming overwhelming.

"You pay for your food and they say what cost you $20 is $40 now, or what cost $30 is $60 now, you're kind of like in awe, like really?" he said.

Joe Purefoy says higher prices mean he has to be a careful shopper by sticking to what’s on his grocery list and hoping to find discounts along the way.

“I try to catch the buys,” he said. “There’s no choice, you just have to shop a little more carefully.”

The latest consumer price index for the Midwest shows the average box of cereal is up 13 percent, dairy products are 14 percent more expensive, and meat and poultry cost 17.5 percent more than a year ago.

"This is a significant problem, one that we haven't seen for more than 40 years,” said Brandon Scholz.

Scholz is the president of the Wisconsin Grocers Association. He says continued supply chain issues are to blame. Manufacturers, suppliers and producers are charging grocery stores more for their items. Ultimately, Scholz says consumers take the hit.

“As those price increases come onto the grocers, they're going to have to raise some of them because their margins are very thin, their margins are very small and they can't absorb most of those increases,” he said.

The latest consumer price index shows gas is seeing the highest rate of inflation at a whopping 49 percent hike over the past year. That’s followed by airfare at 37 percent. Meanwhile, housing is up 7.1 percent on average in the Midwest.

UW-Milwaukee economics professor Rebecca Neumann says inflation has only gotten worse over the past month.

"I think the real concern is that index went up one percent from April to May, which was actually faster inflation than the previous months."

TMJ4 News asked Neumann when she thinks prices could go back down. She replied, "I think it could be in the fall. I think that this is the big question, right? It's the true uncertainty that this price pressure is really being built in right now and I think that given the constraints and the spots where the inflation is actually coming from, means it's probably not going to go away real fast."

When it comes to gas, AAA shows Milwaukee’s average for a regular gallon Monday is $5.17. That’s 16 cents higher than the national average.

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