Maea Lenei Buhre
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Prices in the U.S. are climbing at their fastest rates in 40 years, up more than 8 percent from 2021. But for many families across the country that number is more than a data point. We take a look at how one family in Michigan is coping with this new reality. Geoff Bennett has the story.
Prices in the US are climbing at their fastest rate in 40 years more than 8 percent from 2021. But for many families across the country, that number is more than just a data point. Tonight, we take a look at how one family in Michigan is coping with this new reality.
It's a typical morning at the Bandy house. 39-year-old Lindsey and 44 year old Scott live just outside of Grand Rapids Michigan. They say right now their household budget is stretched to the breaking point by rising costs.
What have the last couple of months been like for you as inflation has creeped up across the country?
Lindsay Bandy, Michigan Resident:
Before this last round of inflation hit, it was, I mean, it was rough. You know, we were still kind of paycheck to paycheck. But the paycheck went a little bit further. There's no wiggle room.
Lindsay says skyrocketing prices at the supermarket are a major source of stress. Meat prices rose by nearly 15 percent in the US over last year. Milk is up 13 percent, even the price of soup spiked 10 percent.
Lindsay says the sticker shock is the worst at the gas pump.
In Grand Rapids it now costs around $4 a gallon that's up from less than $3 a year ago.
So I just had a very painful experience. I filled up my gas tank. I wasn't even quarter of a tank and still cost me $100. Oh yes.
We have to drive across town to pick up the kids and then I commute for work that's taken a huge bite out of our monthly budget.
She earns $15 an hour at her retail job, that's well over the federal minimum wage and works about 35 hours a week. Her husband Scott works full time as a cable technician. And the family lives with a roommate to help pay the mortgage.
Still, Lindsay says they're barely scraping by because wages haven't kept up with prices.
Who are what do you blame for inflation?
Corporate greed. I mean, there's no reason why these companies that are posting record profits over the last two years can't afford to pay their employees a living wage for somebody to turn around and say oh my 401k has never been better and my stocks are so high and I'm going OK, what world are you living in?
Michelle Singletary, The Washington Post:
It's a tough, tough situation for a lot of people.
Michelle Singletary is a financial columnist for the Washington Post. She says what the Bandy family is experiencing is now unfortunately very common.
Was the people who were already living on the edge and the pandemic and the economic slowdown and higher gas prices, inflation, just tipping them over.
For now, the Bandys are finding creative ways to support their family. Lindsay has taken up what she calls nerd crafting, and sells her wares at conventions and online. And Scott donates plasma twice a week for extra cash.
Lindsay's mother, Lisa chips in by looking after the Bandy's three year old daughter, Haley, it saves the family on childcare costs, and is a welcome break for Lindsay and Scott.
Lisa Lakel, Lindsay Bandy’s Mother:
They just feel like they're not, you know, what are we doing wrong? You know, we're not getting ahead. We're working and we're working. And we're working. And we're just we're not getting ahead. It really is heartbreaking. And I just, you know, I just wish there was, you know, more than I could do for her.
Haley is too young to understand the financial toll on the family. But 10-year-old Hope has started to notice.
Hope Bandy, Lindsay Bandy’s Daughter:
I worry that if my parents don't like pay all the bills that will like lose the house and we'll have to move back in with my Nana.
Feel like you were trying to succeed as a parent, which is hard enough. And then to find out that you're not doing such a great job hiding, you know, your stressors and your fears and your attentions is just it's wrenching.
For now, Singletary says the economic outlook is uncertain.
Hopefully by 2023 we're really seeing things turn around. But I think you got to pack in your patience, and know that this is probably going to be happening for a little bit longer.
And that's a huge concern for Lindsay Bandy.
That's something keeps me up at night. And it's part of that deep, deep hole that we're trying so hard to dig ourselves out of. We've been working the jobs we've been putting in the hours and it's just one kicking teeth after another and should things get worse than they are. It's just it's not something I can think about.
Watch the Full Episode
Geoff Bennett is the chief Washington correspondent for PBS NewsHour. He is also a political contributor for NBC News and MSNBC.
Maea Lenei Buhre is a general assignment producer for the PBS NewsHour.
Layla Quran is a general assignment producer for PBS NewsHour. She was previously a foreign affairs reporter and producer.
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