The high and rising cost of living in Florida

Gasoline. Races. Lease. Insurance.

It has become more expensive to live in Florida – much more expensive.

Overall, prices for all kinds of things are up nearly 9% from a year ago. Paychecks do not follow price increases.

The inflation is here, and it’s squeezing Floridians, especially the elderly – a huge population in this state. This particularly hurts low-income Floridians and retirees who depend on Social Security checks. And that will likely play a role in the election later this year.

In April, prices rose 8.8% in the Southeastern United States, a slight improvement from the regional inflation rate of 9.1% in March. This includes gasoline and food.

“I think, unfortunately, (inflation) is going to be there for probably another 6 to 12 months,” said University of Central Florida Institute for Economic Forecasting director Sean Snaith. “What’s happening in Florida is no different than what we see across the country. You know, maybe with the exception of the housing market.”

Home prices jumped 20.6% in March from a year earlier, according to the US National S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index. But the price jumps were even bigger in Florida – up 32% in Miami, up 34% in Tampa. And Florida is also home to some of the highest annual rent increases.

This spring, more than a third of Florida households reported having difficulty paying their usual expenses. That was slightly higher than a year earlier according to the US Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey.

The Federal Reserve began raising its target short-term interest rate earlier this spring to fight inflation, and Snaith fears the central bank will have to keep raising borrowing costs to drive the rate of hike down. prices.

“I think the Fed, in its actions to try to get inflation down and back towards its target level of 2%, is likely to push the economy into a recession over the next 12 months,” he said. he declared.

Rapidly rising prices are hitting low-income and fixed-income Floridians faster and longer. Fueled by higher inflation, the annual increase in the cost of living for Social Security at the end of last year was 5.9% – the highest annual increase since 1982. The advocacy group Senior Citizen League think the increase at the end of this year could be 8.6%.

The average Social Security recipient receives a monthly check for $1,657. Such a boost, which the Senior Citizen League expects, would add $142 to that amount.

Florida has long been a retirement paradise with its warm climate and zero income tax. Still, former director of FSU’s Claude Pepper Center, Larry Polivka, said there are significant differences between these new Florida retirees and more experienced Floridians.

“The ‘native’ population is significantly poorer with fewer assets and savings than the people who settle here,” he said. “One of the reasons associated with this is the fact that it is disproportionately single and minority women (who already live in Florida) compared to people moving into the state.”

This week, President Biden met with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on Tuesday at the White House to talk about higher prices. Biden reiterated his respect for central bank independence and his efforts to bring down inflation.

Governor Ron DeSantis has frequently criticized the president’s handling of the economy. “You see interest rates going up. You’re probably going to continue to see that. It’s going to put downward pressure on the growth of the economy. And you could very well end up seeing this country plunged into a recession,” , he said on May 20. “I hope it doesn’t happen.

In February, the economy was cited as the most important issue by Florida voters, with GOP voters mentioning it slightly more often than Democrats. A more recent Florida Chamber of Commerce poll from March found inflation and gas prices to be the third most important issue after the economy and education.

“The economy always plays a big role in midterm elections and presidential elections. And no doubt this fall, it will do the same. That usually means bad news for the party in power in the White House.” said Mike Binder, head of the public opinion research lab at UNF in Jacksonville.

Democratic pollster Fernand Amandi expects Florida Republicans to pull off “a trick.” Amandi described it as the GOP focusing on inflation toward Pres. Biden and the Democrats.

“Republicans have totally controlled the state of Florida for over 20 years,” he said. “I think Democrats can shine a light on who is responsible here in Florida for discussing this as a Republican issue that they haven’t resolved to the satisfaction of voters.”

The Florida Roundup invited three Florida Republican strategists to join the program. They refused.

Copyright 2022 WLRN 91.3 FM. For more, visit WLRN 91.3 FM.

About Mark A. Tomlin

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