Inflation a ‘Huge Problem,’ Democrat House Leader Admits

By Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Reporter
Tom Ozimek has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education. The best writing advice he's ever heard is from Roy Peter Clark: 'Hit your target' and 'leave the best for last.'
July 21, 2022 Updated: July 21, 2022

In the latest Democrat acknowledgment of America’s cost-of-living squeeze, House Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told Fox News that red-hot inflation is a “huge problem” for households.

Hoyer made the remarks in an interview on Fox News’ “Your World” program that aired on July 20.

“Inflation is a huge problem. It’s a huge problem for Americans. Supply shortages—particularly in grocery stores—a huge problem for Americans. We need to deal with that,” the Democrat leader said.

The remarks follow a recent admission by White House economic adviser Jared Bernstein that inflation in the United States is “unacceptably high,” although there’s some improvement in areas like gas prices, which Bernstein said were “moving in the right direction.”

After hitting a record-high of more than $5 a gallon last month, gasoline prices have trended downward, with the automotive association AAA reporting that, on July 21, the national average was $4.44 per gallon.

Hoyer insisted that the Biden administration was working to tame soaring inflation, touting such measures as the recently passed Lower Food and Fuel Costs Act, which Washington-based think tank R Street Institute panned as exacerbating “the very problems it claims to solve,” while also adding $700 million of public debt.

Rural Households Hit Harder by Inflation

The latest inflation print came in at a multi-decade high of 9.1 percent in annual terms, with food up 10.4 percent and energy a whopping 41.6 percent.

While price inflation affects all American consumers, recent studies from Iowa State University and the New York Federal Reserve Bank showed that different spending patterns among different demographics means that the inflationary wave has had a disproportionate impact.

Rural households, for example, have been hit harder by soaring inflation, with the Iowa State University study showing that rural discretionary incomes have plunged by 50 percent since 2020, with most of those losses taking place in the past 12 months.

The discretionary incomes of urban households, by contrast, saw a far more modest drop of 13 percent over the same period.

Black and Hispanic households tend to spend more of their income on transportation, with the New York Fed estimating that blacks faced an inflation rate 0.6 percentage points higher than the headline rate, while for Hispanics this was 0.6 percentage points higher.

Inflation for Asian American households was 0.5 percentage points lower, while the rate faced by whites was about the same as the headline 9.1 percent figure.

Inflation Keeping Gen Z Living With Parents

The inflationary squeeze also has hampered the ability of the Gen Z cohort to move out and live independently.

A recent survey conducted by Qualtrics on behalf of Credit Karma showed that 29 percent of Gen Z respondents in the 18–25 age range were living with their parents or other relatives and viewed the arrangement as more or less permanent.

Soaring housing costs are likely a major factor behind the high proportion of young Americans continuing to live with their parents.

The rent index in June’s inflation figure rose 0.8 percent over the month, the largest monthly increase since April 1986.

Tom Ozimek
Reporter
Tom Ozimek has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education. The best writing advice he's ever heard is from Roy Peter Clark: 'Hit your target' and 'leave the best for last.'