While overall inflation has gradually increased over the past five years, the prices of certain goods and commodities have skyrocketed, according to a new study from Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School.
From December 2008 to March 2014, the price of ground beef rose 30.6 percent, car insurance has gone up 24.1 percent and trash collection fees rose 14.6 percent, according to the study.
Other commodities have seen a steep decline, with the price of televisions down 67.2 percent, computers down 39.2 percent and toys down 25.1 percent.
The study tracked national data for goods and services each month, said Mark Dotzour, chief economist and research director at the Real Estate Center in A&M’s business school.
“What the surprise is, is that while overall prices are only going up 1 or 2 percent a year, a lot of things are going way above that and other things are going way down in value,” Dotzour said.
He decided to do the study after looking at overall federal data about low inflation rates but he kept hearing people talk about how prices on necessities were growing more rapidly. He started to pay closer attention and monitor the consumer price index month by month until this past March.
“While people report that inflation is low each year, the fact is, it piles up one year after the next, after the next, and suddenly the things you buy are a lot more expensive than they were five years ago,” he said.
Food and energy are normally “volatile” in their prices, said Terry Clower, director of the Center for Economic Development and Research at the University of North Texas. These aren’t huge signs of inflation because there have been outside factors as well, he said.
The price of food has gone up a lot in the last year, but there are some circumstances, such as the drought, that have had an impact on some food production, Clower said.
When compared with current wages and income, these increases seem more dramatic, Clower said. During this period of economic recovery, the jobs being created aren’t as high-paying, so discretionary income is continuing to shrink.
While the study tracked national statistics, Dotzour said he thinks most states have followed the same patterns as the data.
In Denton, prices tend to be below national averages, so the cost increases may be less dramatic, Clower said.
JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @JennaFDuncan.