As inflation soars, black families bear the brunt of rising grocery, gas and housing prices
“I’m just worried about the quality of life,” Johnson, 33, said. “You already have nerves about being a new parent. And then you may have all the economic downturn coming and that can create some anxiety.”
Like many black families, Johnson and her husband are bearing the brunt of inflation – with prices hitting the highest rates the United States has seen in more than 40 years. Researchers say black families will suffer the worst effects of rising inflation as they lag behind their white counterparts in income, wealth, financial savings and home ownership.
The disparity leaves many black Americans without funds to help offset rising consumer prices and puts greater pressure on their monthly income, economists say. Some economists worry that if lawmakers don’t act quickly to tackle inflation, black families could be forced to go without necessities as the threat of another recession looms.
“It’s going to be extremely devastating,” said William Darity Jr., a professor of public policy, African American studies and economics at Duke University. “People will have to make very, very difficult decisions about whether or not to buy medicine or buy food or forgo paying for their utilities. This will have adverse effects on people’s well-being. “
Darity said the country’s wealth gap has made it difficult for black families to maintain financial savings or transfer wealth across generations, as many white families have been able to. He said racist policies such as redlining and depriving former slaves of the lands they were promised have historically left black Americans behind.
“The problem is that the Republicans in Congress are doing everything they can to stop my cost-cutting plans for ordinary families. That’s why my plan isn’t done and why the results aren’t done either. “, Biden said earlier this month.
A disproportionate impact on black families
Some research suggests that black households are more sensitive to changes in inflation than white households.
Munseob Lee, an economist at the University of California, San Diego who co-authored the study, said many black Americans also live in food deserts and pay higher prices for groceries at convenience stores. Inflation only increases the price of these convenience store products, Lee said. It also forces black shoppers to travel with their dads for groceries, which means they are subject to rising gas prices, he said.
“If the prices paid by white households increase by 7% over one year, our calculations suggest that they can be expected to increase by 7.5% for black households”, notes for example the study. .
Johnson, the mother from Atlanta, noted that if Americans didn’t get a raise, the rate of inflation would equal a pay cut.
“I think a lot about money and I think a lot about finances and I wonder if our salaries are going to start to match (the rate of inflation),” Johnson said.
“It costs more to be poor”
Some nonprofits are stepping in to help families put food on the table as inflation continues.
Omilami said she was also inundated with requests from people who needed help paying their rent. Many families, she said, are struggling with inflation because someone in the household lost their job during the pandemic or they are seniors on fixed incomes. Other families say their food stamps are not enough to cover the rising cost of food, Omilami said.
A mother from suburban Atlanta said she had to make major changes to where she shopped and what her family ate.
Crystal Smith, a single mother of four, said she now spends more time comparing prices at different stores to see how she can save money. During a recent week, she decided to cook chicken in seafood broth for her family because it was the most affordable meal.
“It’s one of those things that definitely makes you wonder how you can cut costs,” Smith said. “We are really going through a tough time and we have to start making tough decisions, especially in the African-American community.”