CNN Money has an interesting take on it in Making a good living, but still feeling strapped.
Hoyt of Economy.com argues that every income strata is feeling it. The wealthy are hurting from the roiling stock market, the middle class from falling home prices and working folks from rising prices.
Food prices, for instance, climbed 5.1% over the past 12 months and April's 0.9% rise was the largest in 18 years, according to the Consumer Price Index. Gas, meanwhile, hit its highest recorded price of $3.937 on Monday, up nearly 21% from a year ago and 9.7% over the past month, according to AAA.
That's right, last month's food prices spike was the highest in eighteen years. Egads.
The interesting thing about the economy is the point of departure between consumer perception and the perception of the economists. Consumers are pretty much freaking out (one man in the article points out that he didn't mind penny pinching to send his kids to college, but not to buy eggs), while the economists are mucking about the statistical wash of price indexes and the increase or decrease of important numbers. Basically, I don't think we're walking around thinking are we or are we not in a recession. Sure, I know the debatable criteria for real economic recession, but I also know that my place in the economic food chain is in a steep recession. And I'm not the only one.
Suddenly, people who aren't used to looking at certain bills are getting shocked from their eye sockets to their pockets. I mean, I looked at my bill from the Associated supermarket, but not like I do now. I'm running around the apartment turning off random lights. And I think that I finally might just put a dent on that lifelong project of eating down the pantry.
What does this mean for the larger economy? I don't know, but for now I think the war of perception is being won by us, the consumer.
- photo by caseyhelbing via flickr