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Inflation is even worse than the official numbers suggest

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If you’re having trouble grasping why inflation is so politically potent, consider that Americans who enjoyed a Fourth of July cookout on Monday paid 17 percent more for their food than last year, according to a survey from the American Farm Bureau Federation.

That’s a perfect illustration of a poorly understood aspect of inflation: For most Americans, the inflation they actually experience is often much worse than the 8.6 percent headline rate.

The official government inflation rate comes from the consumer price index, which measures the prices of a basket of goods that reflect the overall annual consumption of items and services that an average urban household pays for.

As a national average, it can never exactly reflect what a particular household faces in any particular city. It assumes that the average family purchases all these goods and services in the same quantities. But that simply isn’t true, and it unintentionally hides how high inflation is for millions of people.

Prices for the goods that people regularly purchase are rising much faster than those for things they don’t. Food used at home, for example, rose by almost 12........

© Washington Post

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