Inflation is hitting American workers and families the hardest when it comes to common household goods and services, including groceries and utility bills.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated on Wednesday that inflation had skyrocketed 8.3% over the past 12 months. The jump is the largest single-year increase in more than 40 years.
GOP lawmakers say the burden is being felt hardest by citizens that can afford it least.
“Inflation cost Arkansans $452 in April,” said Sen. John Boozman, Arkansas Republican. “Families, seniors on fixed incomes and single parents living paycheck-to-paycheck can’t afford necessities and have to choose which bills to pay or whether to fill prescriptions.”
The administration’s own economic data seems to support the claim. According to BLS, the price of flour jumped 14% over the past year, driving bread prices up 9%.
Other wheat and grain products like breakfast cereal increased by 12%, while rice, pasta and cornmeal jumped 10.7%. Peanut butter and coffee prices, meanwhile, rose by roughly 14% each.
SEE ALSO: Biden’s blaming Putin for price hikes highlights powerlessness to get inflation under control
Consumers also shelled out 14.3% more at grocery stores for meat, poultry, fish and eggs. The price of chicken alone rose 15% over last year, while bacon jumped roughly 18%.
Eggs had the largest single increase of the group, however, at 22.6%. Consumers felt that hike especially between March and April of this year as the cost of eggs rose 10.3%.
Dairy products similarly saw a double-digit increase from last year, with milk prices rising by 14.7%. Likewise, the price of butter and margarine rose by 19%.
The cost of fruits and vegetables, on the other hand, increased by 7.8%. The price of citrus fruits grew by 18.6%, while lettuce jumped 12.7%.
New parents were some of the hardest hit by inflation as well, with baby food rising 13% in cost over the past year.
“Inflation is horrible,” said Sen. Joe Manchin III, West Virginia Democrat who has criticized President Biden for not doing enough to combat rising prices. “People are really hurting.”
Outside of grocery items, Americans also paid significantly more for energy costs.
Gasoline prices rose by 43.6% in the past 12 months, frustrating drivers in rural and urban communities alike. The average cost for a gallon of regular gasoline hit $4.40 across the country Wednesday.
Home heating costs fared no better because of inflation. The cost of electricity rose 11%, while propane, kerosene and firewood jumped 26.5%. The price of natural gas, which powers almost 40% of all electricity generation across the U.S., increased by 22.7%.
White House officials are trying to downplay the significance of the inflation report. Mr. Biden has blamed rising costs on GOP lawmakers and Russia this week.
The president, in particular, said that although Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine had upended the global economy and driven up energy prices, Republicans were doing little to help lower costs.
“Some parts of my plan I’ve been able to get done on my own,” Mr. Biden said. “Some parts have been held up by Congress. What’s the congressional Republican plan? They don’t want to solve inflation by lowering your costs.”
Economists contend, though, that Mr. Biden’s big-spending policies are to blame for inflation. They say that the White House’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, signed into law in 2021, flooded the economy with excess money when the nation was facing a supply chain crisis.
“Under President Biden’s administration, the American people have become demonstrably poorer,” said E.J. Antoni, an economic analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation. “Prices have surged so rapidly that real earnings — earnings adjusted for price changes — have dropped 4.5% on Biden’s watch.”
The inflation numbers pose another major headache for Mr. Biden and congressional Democrats. Mr. Biden’s party is expected to face a tough political environment in this year’s midterm elections, and inflation has sapped morale among Democrats.
Recent polls show Mr. Biden’s approval rating at a record low, while Republicans continue to maintain a healthy lead on the generic congressional ballot.