NEW ORLEANS (February 21, 2022) – As Americans grapple with rising prices, Dillard students say they feel the effects all around, but especially with food and gas.
Senior theater major Walter Dixson said rising prices have made a “huge impact” on the way he lives: “I’m very careful about what I spend my money on.”
Inflation, the rate of increase in prices over a given period, has reached its highest point in 40 years. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the price of consumer items rose 7 percent from December 2020 to December 2021.
A consumer price index 2021 chart from the bureau showed gas prices are up 49.6 percent; energy 29.3 percent; food 6.3 percent; apparel 5.8 percent; shelter 4.1 percent; and medical care 2.2percent.
The United States is not alone. Prices are soaring around the world; among the major economies, only China has a lower inflation rate today than in early 2020. A Pew Research Center analysis found the third-quarter 2021 inflation rate was higher in 39 of 46 nations when compared with the pre-pandemic third quarter of 2019.
Here at Dillard, students are feeling the impact of the price surges when they shop for gas, food, cleaning supplies, apparel and hygiene items, among others.
Gas prices are a significant issue for students with vehicles. Ryan Browder, a senior theater major from New Orleans, said his gas costs have doubled.
“What would have cost me $10 in gas before now costs me, like, $20 just to fill up my car halfway, and it doesn’t do much.”
Browder said if he buys $10 in gas, that’s about a quarter of a tank, “which lasts me less than a week…It’s down to the point right now where I have to survive with $5 worth of gas because sometimes that’s all I have left.”
He said gas and food are his top two concerns: ““The bread I used to buy was $1 and is now $3…There have been times where I’ve had to go to sleep hungry.” For him, higher prices have made having fun “expendable.”
A favorite food for Dixson apparently is eggs, which he said he buys 60 at a time.
“Junior year, I would always go to Walmart and buy a 60-count box of eggs, and it would be $5. Now, my senior year, that $5 box of eggs is now $8,” he said.
Ashira Jones, a sophomore English major from New Orleans, said she used to spend $10 on 2-3 pounds of shrimp. Now, because of higher costs, she said, “we buy about a pound of shrimp and try to stretch it out.”
Students find other ways to save money, such as looking out for sales or cutting out certain items. For example, Browder has cut back on gas, food and clothes. Dixson has stopped going to the casino. De’Auan McClaine, a film senior from Kansas City, Kansas, said she’s cut back on buying shoes and video games.
Paulina Webber, an English junior from Little Rock, Arkansas, said, “I try to watch out for sales so I can maintain my preferences, such as Bath & Body Works products like body wash, lotion, candles, etc., but still try not to just break the bank because everything is expensive.”
Webber said she started used coupons.
Webber said she doesn’t have a car, but when her mom drove down from Little Rock to return her to school, her mother commented on how much higher gas was in New Orleans – $3.25 at the time vs. $3 in Little Rock, “so that’s a pretty big gap.”