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Vol. 74/No. 47      December 13, 2010

Official inflation is flat;
food, energy prices rise
The U.S. Labor Department announced inflation has fallen to its lowest level since the agency began keeping records in 1957. The department says when food and energy are disregarded, inflation in the last year was only 0.6 percent.

For working people these figures have little to do with what most affects their lives—food, energy, and housing costs.

In the last year gasoline prices rose 9.5 percent and overall energy costs increased 5.9 percent. Beef prices are up 5.7 percent and pork 10 percent from last year, while eggs rose 11.3 percent, milk 6.5 percent, and butter 19.1 percent.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported 14.7 percent of all households in the country were “food insecure” in 2009. The number adds up to 17 million working-class families, but the USDA gives no figure for the number of people. Currently one in four households in the United States has at least one family member who is enrolled in a USDA food subsidy program. Two years ago the number was one in five.

The Capital Area Food Bank’s president told the Washington Post it is facing the most difficult year in the 30 years it has existed. The food bank plans to distribute 30 million pounds of food this year—up from 27 million last year.

At the Arlington Food Assistance Center in Virginia, many seeking help have jobs. L. Saba Bekele, who is employed as a shuttle van driver, waited more than an hour for her weekly groceries and then gave her turkey to the woman behind her in line who had a larger family.

Wanda Wittenburg, a caregiver in a senior living facility, made her first visit to a food pantry. Her rent doubled this summer when her son turned 18 and she was no longer eligible for a housing voucher.
Related articles:
Workers in Ireland protest gov’t austerity
Capitalists press wage cuts, layoffs
White House targets gov’t workers for wage freeze
Who’s sharing in the sacrifice?  
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