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Food Costs Consume Record Share of Americans’ Income, Credit Card Delinquency Rates Surge

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In a stark economic reality, Americans are grappling with the highest share of their income being consumed by food costs in the past three decades. The last time such a significant portion of income was allocated to food expenses, George H.W. Bush was in office, ‘Terminator 2: Judgment Day’ was captivating audiences in theaters, and C+C Music Factory topped the Billboard charts. Despite an overall easing of inflation, the burden of rising food prices persists.

Recent data from the Labor Department reveals a 5.1% increase in prices at restaurants and eateries compared to January 2023. Grocery costs also experienced a notable uptick, rising by 1.2% during the same period. This trend is contributing to an unprecedented 30-year high in the share of income dedicated to sustaining basic nutritional needs.

As consumers face the strain of elevated food expenses, another concerning economic indicator emerges with the highest year-over-year rise in credit card delinquency rates. The data for Q3 2023 shows a staggering 43% YoY change in credit card delinquency rates, reaching a level not seen since Q2 2012.

Credit card delinquency rates, currently standing at 3%, are closely monitored as they often serve as an early indicator of economic instability. The surge in delinquency rates suggests that a segment of the population is grappling with financial challenges, prioritizing essential payments like mortgages over credit card bills.

The economic landscape remains challenging, and the burden of high food costs coupled with rising credit card delinquencies underscores the need for continued vigilance and targeted policy measures to address the financial pressures faced by consumers.

Sources:

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