COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado — Inflation grew in the US in February to its highest rate in 40 years. The Consumer Price Index rose by 0.8 percent from January for a year-to-year high of 7.9 percent. In the 13 states that make up the Bureau of Labor Statistics Western Region, the CPI has grown by 8.1 percent year-to-year.
Gas, food, and housing prices are all driving the increase and analysts believe it could get worse before it gets better. The February data does not include the recent spike in oil and gas prices triggered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The national average for a gallon of unleaded gas reached $4.31 Thursday according to AAA. The trickle-down effect on shoppers and businesses is undeniable.
Joey's N.Y. Pizza grew during the pandemic. Despite the multiple closures and restrictions imposed during 2020, the business expanded to its third location on Templeton Gap Road in February of 2021.
District Manager Jen Moreland credits their fresh ingredients, friendly staff, and loyal customer base for their success.
"The community is so welcoming to us, they are wonderful," Moreland said. "We have so many repeat customers."
The staff at Joey's hand tosses the dough for every pie they bake and chop the toppings fresh each day. But those ingredients are getting more expensive.
Moreland said their food costs have tripled in recent months.
The company also increase wages this year to attract and keep their staff.
"We did give all of our employees raises, our drivers are definitely making a lot more," she said. "We did about a $3 or more hourly increase for each employee."
Moreland said they want to keep those higher costs from impacting customers, but some price increases are just unavoidable.
"We'll probably have to do another price increase in the near future," she said.
Experts believe the rising inflation rate is likely to keep growing in the short term.
"Economists are generally anticipating it could be another one to one and a half percent rise in the inflation rate for this year," said Tom Binnings, Senior Partner with Summit Economics, "So, right now, it's about 8 percent. We could see it approach 9 percent or perhaps a little bit higher than that."
The higher prices are leading more people to search for help making ends meet.
Elizabeth Quevedo, Director of Community Impact for the Pikes Peak United Way said the most frequent calls for help on the 211 Assistance Hotline are for housing and food assistance. However, some callers have begun asking about help paying for gas.
"A lot of times, people don't know where to turn, they don't know who to ask and when there's no food in the house, it's hard to be successful at work, it's hard for your children to be successful at school," Quevedo said.
She wants the community to know that help is available and that there is no need to face personal financial struggles alone.
The hotline is answered during business hours. However, callers who need help outside of those hours should still leave a voicemail message. Quevedo said those messages will be returned so that the caller can get the help they need.
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