Contrary to popular belief, we don’t like to be the bearer of bad news. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of bad news going around, and we’re in the business of sharing news – good and bad.
So here’s the daily dose: The cost of living for Americans is now higher than it’s ever been. It’s higher than it was when housing prices were skyrocketing, when stock prices were at record highs and unemployment was at a record low.
It costs more now to live than it ever has. That’s the news from an index created by the U.S. Labor Department. The index was created to measure the actual cost of living for Americans and that number reached a new high in February.
“The absolute cost of living is now back at a record high in a country that has seven million less jobs,” Peter Bookvar, an equity strategist at Miller Tabak told CNBC.
We never bought the stories that politicians and Wall Street honchos spread about America inching out of a recession. We’ve seen too many businesses along our own Main Street struggling and too many empty storefronts to think the country as a whole was out of the woods yet.
And the news that the cost of living is at record levels doesn’t bode well for any kind of recovery in the near future.
“As the staples start to cost more, this could lead to a quick slowdown in the auto and technology sectors as an iPad is an easy thing to pass on if you are paying more for your gas and food and need to cut back somewhere,” JJ Kinahan, a chief derivatives strategist at TD Ameritrade told CNBC.
Meanwhile, state and local governments can’t seem to be bothered with lowering the cost of living for their residents. Just this week, the Kansas House of Representatives declined to repeal the 1 cent sales tax they enacted last year. The new tax is estimated to cost the average family an extra $30 each month.
Locally, the city of Gardner has raised property taxes 30 percent over the course of the last two years, and now residents in the Gardner Edgerton School District and the Spring Hill School District will soon be asked to foot new bond issues.
The U.S. Labor Department’s cost of living index confirms something most of us already knew – prices are on the rise. We see it at the gas pump. We feel the pinch at the grocery store.
Something has to give.