Households are spending $371 more per month, and economists aren't sure it'll fall further

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Tuesday, January 17, 2023
Households spend hundreds of dollars more per month, experts weigh in
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Economists believe the United States won't reach pre-COVID-19 pandemic numbers as reports show households are spending more each month.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A recent report shows households are still paying hundreds more a month for goods, and while the amount is falling, economists believe we may not reach pre-pandemic numbers.

Sticker shock is real at the grocery store. Moody's Analytics monitors how much American families pay each month.

In summer 2022, the agency said households spent $502 extra a month on goods compared to 2021. It fell to $371 in December. The highest amount more households are paying for is housing and food.

Overall though, the numbers are falling. Economists said it's because stimulus money has been spent, and suppliers are starting to meet demand.

"All of these things started to die out and we're returning to a more normalized life where prices are a little bit more stable," Jorge Barro, Rice University's public finance fellow, explained.

What could this mean? Economists say the price you pay for goods, including food, cars, and housing, could be what you'll see for a while.

"The prices may not come down to what they were before the pandemic," Barro said. "I think that might be an unrealistic expectation. I think the best that we can hope for right now is that price increases will stop or stabilize at a much lower level."

Not ideal, when so many food prices are high. The latest consumer price index report from the federal government shows nearly all food items are up from December of 2021.

Flour, lettuce, and margarine are up. But the price of eggs has risen by 60%. State poultry experts said it's because of inflation and a nationwide bird flu outbreak, and they aren't sure when the price will drop.

"I can't say exactly when that'll be," Texas Poultry Foundation Executive Vice President JC Essler said. "Our producers in the United States that have been hit with avian influenza, or what we call the bird flu, are starting their process of getting back into production."

The price of gas dropped in December by more than 15%, which could help drive down the costs of other items soon.

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