The Bureau of Labor Statistics released a consumer expenditure survey that showed how much various income groups spent on gasoline and food – two thing which are at the mercy of environmental limits.
Escalating inflation due to peak oil induced price rises are combining with the effects of climate change to send gasoline and food costs spiraling upward.
The study showed that groups that spent more than 20% of their income on gas and food were very vulnerable to continued price increases.
In Lexington, that amounts to nearly 50% of all households, an astonishing number of which are spending 20% or more of their income on gas and food. See chart below for the breakdown of household incomes according to the Census.
This is important as these households could see a decline in diet and nutrition as well as the ability to simply get to work, as Lextran does not completely cover the city in a meaningful way, nor are we as bike and pedestrian friendly as we need to be. Further, rising food prices will put added demand on food assistance programs. At the same time the costs of food assistance will rise and donations and government funding may falter as a result of a broader economic downturn. Housing affordability will become an even larger concern.
Our city must put the needs of these households first. Our plans must provide for more access to local food, transit, and bike and pedestrian infrastructure. We must work to ensure access to affordable housing across the city.
The only way that this inflation could be stopped is if the economy falls back into recession – but even then the same remedies will apply. (I’m not sure that the stagflation genie can be put back in the bottle in any event.)
We as a city cannot simply tune out this huge number of people as they confront factors beyond their control. We must come together as a community to realistically admit the challenges we are facing and the fact that they won’t “blow over soon.”