December 16, 2010
For the first time since 2008, inflation is hitting consumers in the stomach.
Grocery prices grew by more than 1 1/2 times the overall rate of inflation this year, outpaced only by costs of transportation and medical care, according to numbers released Wednesday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Economists predict that this is only the beginning. Fueled by the higher costs of wheat, sugar, corn, soybeans and energy, shoppers could see as much as a 4 percent increase at the supermarket checkout next year.
“I noticed just this month that my grocery bill for the same old stuff – cereal, eggs, milk, orange juice, peanut butter, bread – spiked $25,” said Sue Perry, deputy editor of ShopSmart magazine, a nonprofit publication from Consumer Reports. “It was a bit of sticker shock.”
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Stacy Finz, Chronicle Staff Writer
December 4, 2010
U.S. employment barely grew in November and the jobless rate unexpectedly jumped to a seven-month high, hardening views the Federal Reserve would stick to its $600 billion plan to shore up the fragile recovery.
“I would have expected the unemployment rate to tick up…just because Americans who had been discouraged are now back in the workforce because they’re more optimistic about finding a job,” said Bernard Baumohl, managing director and chief global economist, The Economic Outlook Group, Princeton, New Jersey.
Concerns about joblessness and low inflation led to the U.S. central bank’s decision last month to launch its now much-criticized second round of quantitative easing, known as QE2 in financial markets.
The purchases are designed to push already low interest rates down further to stimulate demand.
Fed officials are not the only ones worried about unemployment. The health of the labor market could determine whether President Barack Obama gets a second term in office in 2012.
Disgruntlement over jobs cost the Democratic Party control of the House of Representatives in last month’s midterm elections, setting the stage for a battle over economic policy with Republicans.
September 12, 2010
WASHINGTON – The number of people in the U.S. who are in poverty is on track for a record increase on President Barack Obama’s watch, with the ranks of working-age poor approaching 1960s levels that led to the national war on poverty.
Census figures for 2009 — the recession-ravaged first year of the Democrat’s presidency — are to be released in the coming week, and demographers expect grim findings.
It’s unfortunate timing for Obama and his party just seven weeks before important elections when control of Congress is at stake. The anticipated poverty rate increase — from 13.2 percent to about 15 percent — would be another blow to Democrats struggling to persuade voters to keep them in power.
Interviews with six demographers who closely track poverty trends found wide consensus that 2009 figures are likely to show a significant rate increase to the range of 14.7 percent to 15 percent.
Should those estimates hold true, some 45 million people in this country, or more than 1 in 7, were poor last year. It would be the highest single-year increase since the government began calculating poverty figures in 1959. The previous high was in 1980 when the rate jumped 1.3 percentage points to 13 percent during the energy crisis.