(NEXSTAR) — If concerns over COVID-19 variants were top of mind earlier in the pandemic, in 2022 inflation was foremost when it came to the topics worrying most Americans, according to multiple polls.
On Tuesday, new government data showed that consumer price increases are cooling but are still 7.1% higher this November than they were a year ago. Despite the overall increase, the new data are giving experts hope that inflation is steadily slowing.
“Inflation was terrible in 2022, but the outlook for 2023 is much better,” said Bill Adams, chief economist for Comerica Bank. “Supply chains are working better, business inventories are higher, ending most of the shortages that fueled inflation in 2020.”
But what about individual grocery items and other purchases? Below we’ll check in on five staples that made headlines earlier this year for their head-spinning price increases.
Let’s start with the good news: the cost of filling up a vehicle is actually less expensive than it was last year, despite the national average climbing well above $4.50 over the summer. Gas prices plunged in the last week, AAA experts said last week, with the national average touching $3.26 – 6 cents less than a year ago.
“The seasonal pattern of less driving due to shorter days and crummy weather, combined with a lower oil cost, is driving gas prices lower,” said Andrew Gross, AAA spokesperson. “If this trend continues, many states could see their average prices fall below $3 a gallon by early next year.”
The top five largest weekly decreases happened in Montana (−26 cents), California (−25 cents), Alaska (−24 cents), Nevada (−21 cents) and Oregon (−21 cents).
When it comes to the 10 least expensive states, Texas leads the nation ($2.69), followed by Oklahoma ($2.70), Arkansas ($2.79), Missouri ($2.81), Louisiana ($2.84), Mississippi ($2.84), Tennessee ($2.84), Wisconsin ($2.85), Georgia ($2.87) and Kansas ($2.89).
Multiple forces combined to drive up prices of this beloved breakfast food during 2022.
Experts blamed the steep increase in prices on a nationwide bird flu outbreak, supply chain challenges and high feed costs.
The grocery staple has been causing pain at the register for much of the last year, with the average price for a dozen eggs surpassing $3 for only the second time in history.
So where do we stand as we prepare to close out 2022?
The news is not good, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The most recent available consumer data show that a dozen eggs in November 2022 cost, on average, a whopping 49% higher than at this time last year.
If you’re thinking about forgoing eggs for another breakfast option, you may want to go with fresh fruit (bananas are up 3.8% over last year) instead of cereal (13%).
Another burden on bank accounts in 2022 was the cost of domestic travel.
The average price of a domestic airfare ticket reached $397.16 in the second quarter of 2022, according to the most recent available data Bureau of Transportation Statistics data. A year earlier that number was about 32% less, or $299.79 on average.
The low point for domestic airline tickets came in the third quarter of 2020, according to the BTS, when the average fare sank to $244.71.
As we prepare for the new year, however, there may be reason for some optimism.
BLS statistics from the last few months show growth slowing on a seasonally adjusted basis by 1.1% in October and 3% in November.
While airfare trends were stubbornly expensive in 2022, there has been some good news in other areas of the transportation industry.
One sign of progress in November’s figures was that prices for new cars didn’t budge from October. On average, new cars are still 7.2% costlier than they were a year ago. But that’s down from a 13.2% year-over-year jump in April, which was the highest on record dating to 1953.
The decline in new car prices helps illustrate how supply chain snarls, which have unwound for most goods, are also easing for semiconductors and other key automotive parts. Economists say this should enable automakers to boost production and give buyers an expanded supply of vehicles.
It also suggests that the Fed’s aggressive interest rate hikes, which have made it more expensive to borrow for homes, cars and on credit cards, have begun to slow demand and limit the ability of auto dealers to charge more.
On Tuesday, Fed Chair Jerome Powell said that rent, along with the cost of homeownership, make up one of the three main areas he’s monitoring when it comes to price trends, with the other two being goods and services.
Housing costs, which make up nearly a third of the consumer price index, are still rising.
BLS data show that U.S. average rents were 7.9% higher in November 2022 than they were the year before.
But real-time measures of apartment rents and home prices are starting to drop after having posted sizzling price acceleration at the height of the pandemic. Powell said those declines will likely emerge in government data next year and should help reduce overall inflation.
When it comes to high rent prices and limited supply, not all U.S. renters are facing the same challenges. A recent study from RentCafe found that Miami-Dade County in Florida was the most competitive market in 2022.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.