That $10 fast food meal you bought in March of last year costs about 85 cents more today. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index Inflation Calculator, $10 in March of 2021 had the same buying power as $10.85 in March of 2022. And it’s not just food that costs more.
An April 6, 2022 BLS Albuquerque Area Economic Summary shows the cost of energy increased 26.7% from February 2021 to February 2022 for the mountain division. Food increased 8.2% and all items increased 9.7% for the same region and time frame. In an Associate Press article, Paul Wiseman blames the increase in prices on low supply and high demand, arguing that supply chains were disrupted because of COVID-19 and once businesses reopened, demand increased as companies scrambled to hire employees and stock shelves. The same article also points the finger at the Federal Reserve for not raising interest rates earlier as well as the influx in cash from President Joe Biden’s coronavirus relief package.
Whatever the cause, prices are up, and some are feeling the pinch. Of the 40 votes received for a poll posted on nextdoor.com, 25% said they were cutting back on vacations and 23% said they were eliminating entertainment expenses like subscriptions and tickets to shows. Still, 25% said they were doing nothing to combat inflation and high gas prices.
Mike Lesicka, an electrician living in the Northeast Heights, said he was taught to live with in his means and if that involves working more hours to be able to afford the things he wants, then he’ll spend more time at work. “My mom always told me it is the poor man who eats out for lunch every day,” Lesicka said, adding that he packs a lunch except on Fridays, which are his “cheat day.”
Although some are not impacted by higher costs, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham pushed a new relief package through the state legislature during a special session earlier this month. “Today I am glad to enact legislation easing the burden of high national prices, putting money in New Mexicans’ pockets and protecting their paychecks,” Lujan Grisham said in an April 8 Legislative press release.
The relief package provides $500 payments to single tax filers and $1,000 to joint filers, totaling $698 million. The rebate checks are scheduled to be distributed in two equal parts in June and August. The press release says, “over 1.1 million New Mexicans will receive up to $1,500 in household relief to help offset the high price of gas, groceries and goods, delivering just over $1 billion back to New Mexico taxpayers.”
The relief package also includes $20 million to New Mexicans who do not file taxes, including seniors on fixed incomes and lower income families. During the special session Senate Bill 1 was also passed, allocating $50 million to community projects across the state.