WASHINGTON, D.C. – The most recent drumbeat from the White House National Economic Council (NEC) blaming the meat and poultry industry for their failed policies and rising meat prices came yesterday in a blog post. Let’s look at the facts according to the federal government’s own data.
The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.8 percent in November on a seasonally adjusted basis after rising 0.9 percent in October, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday. Over the last 12 months, the all items index increased 6.8 percent before seasonal adjustment.
Gasoline prices rose another 6.1% for the month – the same increase as October– bringing the annual increase to 58.1%. Fuel oil shot up 3.5%, for a 59.3% year over year surge. U.S. consumers are now paying an average of $3.34 a gallon for gasoline, the highest level in seven years, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Unusually high demand is a crucial factor driving higher inflation. Spending has jumped as more people received Covid-19 vaccinations, businesses reopened and people returned to work. The shortage of workers is also driving up wages, putting pressure on companies to raise prices.
So, where are Americans seeing inflation? Nearly every part of their livelihoods, according the latest CPI:
- Gas +58%
- Rental cars 37%
- Propane 34%
- Used cars 31%
- Utility gas service 25%
- Hotels 22%
- Bacon 21%
- Beef 21%
- Pork 17%
- Furniture 14%
- Fresh fish/seafood 11%
- New cars 11%
- Tires 11%
- Chicken 9%
- Women’s dresses 9%
- TVs 8%
- Eggs 8%
- Apples 7%
- Restaurant prices 6%
- Electricity 6%
“A 9 percent year over year price increase for chicken is barely outpacing inflation and that’s despite the fact that our major inputs like corn, soybeans, gasoline, packaging and transportation are all up double and triple digits, on top of a labor shortage. It’s Economics 101,” said NCC President Mike Brown. “This is all on top of truck driver shortages, backlogs at our ports, shipping delays, and a government spending spree that’s causing an inflationary spiral.”
As the Economic Research Service of the USDA wrote in a report in October, “Prices have been driven up by strong domestic and international demand, labor shortages, supply chain disruptions, and high feed and other input costs.”
Brown added, “It’s time for the NEC to stop playing chicken with our food system and stop using the meat industry as a scapegoat for the significant challenges facing our economy. This administration should be looking at the chicken industry as a model of success, instead of creating a boogeyman to justify an unnecessary and expensive foray into our meat supply.”
The public knows and understands that unnecessary regulations will have the opposite effect on prices – at the worst possible time.
A recent I&I/TIPP Poll* asked respondents, “Who or what is primarily responsible for the supply chain crisis?” Most economists agree that the inflation and supply-chain crises are tightly linked.
Among those surveyed, 36% blamed “President Joe Biden and his administration” for the monumental supply-chain disruption, while 27% pointed their fingers at “government regulations.” All told, 63% blamed the government as the source of the problem, versus 15% who said the “private sector” and 14% who said “the workforce.”
“It’s time to stop playing the blame game and time for government and the private sector to sit down and work together to address the root challenges affecting our economy and find solutions,” said NCC President Mike Brown.