How bad is inflation these days? It all depends on where you live—price increases are not spread evenly across regions and metro areas.
Last week’s inflation report, which showed the Consumer Price Index rising to an alarming 6.2% in October, also highlighted stark differences in how different cities and states in the U.S. are experiencing those higher prices. In St. Louis, for example, the annual inflation rate was 7.5%, while in San Francisco, it was only 3.8%.
The reasons inflation is hitting harder in the middle of the country than in big coastal cities have to do with cars, shopping habits, and ports, said Sabri Yilmaz, a professor of economics at Penn State University. People in auto-dependent rural areas buy more personal vehicles (prices on used cars and trucks are up 26% over the year) and gas (up 50%), and are more affected by supply chain problems because they’re farther away from ports.
In addition, the greater distance between homes and stores in rural areas means consumers are more likely to stock up on food to avoid frequent grocery runs, driving up demand—and prices, Yilmaz said.
“During the pandemic time, people are trying to buy more stuff than they usually buy, especially in areas that are not easy to transport to,” Yilmaz said.
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