If it feels like your family is being squeezed by higher prices, lower wages and stagnant job opportunities, that’s because it is. According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, the consumer price index rose 2.6 percent in the New Jersey/New York area and 2.7 percent for all urban areas nationally in the past year.
At the same time, wages have dropped about 0.6 percent nationally and locally the unemployment rate stubbornly remains at 9 percent.
Food is rising at the greatest rate, with food at home costing 4.1 percent more this year than last year and food in restaurants rising 3.2 percent. Energy prices rose a total 3.2 percent but that is mostly in gasoline prices, which has climbed 13.9 percent over last year. Household energy costs have dropped 8.4 percent, with electricity decreasing 2.5 percent and natural gas falling 19.5 percent.
All other costs rose an average of 2.4 percent in the past year. Notable changes include the price of recreation rising 3.9 percent and shelter increasing 2.1 percent, with residential rent rising 2.5 percent.