# Regressive Inflation Breaking Point

Question: Do we have an entire class of Americans for whom inflation is pushing household budgets to a breaking point?

I just did a little back-of-the-envelope math to see whether a single parent with 2 children earning \$2,500/mo could cover a family’s three primary expenses - rent, food, and gasoline, plus other “incidental” expenses. Unfortunately, my quick review suggests that there simply is very little “discretionary income” left over to cover incidentals like utilities, insurance, taxes, auto maintenance, cell phone, drugs, clothes, school supplies, or anything over and above rent, food, and gasoline.

My figures are as follows:

Income: \$2,500/mo or \$30,000/year (\$15/hour x 40 hours/week x 50 weeks/year)

Primary Expenses:
Rent: \$1,000/mo (low estimate for a 2 bedroom, 1 bath apartment)
Food: \$700/mo (rough estimate for a family of 3)
Gasoline: \$300/mo (rough estimate of 15 gallons/week at \$5/gallon)
Subtotal: \$2,000/mo

Discretionary Income: \$500/mo left over for all other expenses

Inflation is extremely regressive, meaning that rising prices hit lower-income households worst. The figures I described above suggest that rent, food, and gasoline alone absorb 80% of this family’s gross income.

Based on this back-of-the-envelope math, I reasonably assume that thousands (perhaps millions) of Americans are being forced into either insolvency or poverty as a result of inflation in the form of America’s rising cost of living.

I do not think my figures are wildly exorbitant. However, I welcome correction from anyone who has done a more scientific comparison of single-parent household incomes and costs of living.

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You forgot 20% withholding payroll tax.

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You forgot 20% withholding payroll tax.

Not forgotten because that is for a single person. She has two kids, so Head of Household, two dependents, AND Earned Income Tax Credit. Plus may qualify for SNAP or other benefits.

https://aspe.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/documents/4b515876c…

It also depends in which state she resides. Red states use mostly low amounts in order to avoid paying benefits, especially to people in her situation. This is a fact, and is well documented elsewhere. Blue states tend to use higher amounts, especially in the 138% and up (some use 200% and up) ratios. That puts her below poverty level for a family of 3 (check the PDF file linked above for figures).

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Question: Do we have an entire class of Americans for whom inflation is pushing household budgets to a breaking point?

Absolutely! From CNBC:

Nearly half of families with kids can no longer afford enough food 5 months after child tax credit ended
https://www.cnbc.com/2022/06/03/48-percent-of-families-cant-…

Without the child tax credit, Stormy Johnson has been skipping her own meals so her kids can eat.

Johnson, 45, works as a student support specialist in Preston County Schools in Kingwood, West Virginia. Before the monthly enhanced child tax credit payments lapsed in December, she received an additional \$500 each month for her two children, Violet, 15, and Tristan, 14, whom she parents alone.

Without the extra money, and with increased prices due to inflation, Johnson’s budget is stretched thin.

Let’s just call Ms. Johnson and her kids “cannon fodder” in the fight for steadily increasing Executive Compensation.

intercst

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Yet for all the whining on the subject US has among the lowest gas prices in the industrialized nations due to lower taxes on gas and oil producers?

Tim

https://countryeconomy.com/energy/prices-gasoline-gas-oil-he…

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Speaking of inflation, I’ve noticed that my pipeline guys are all in the ‘Green’ today. Guy came on BNN on that very subject and pointed out that Pipeline companies are a good place to ride out inflation because they make money delivering necessary products such as Nat Gas and Oil to refineries as well as finished products to market.

Pipelines are a huge investment of mostly borrowed money, inflation allows the companies to pay down debt in cheaper money as well as raise tolls … (everyone else is raising prices?).

He mentioned Enbridge receiving contracts to build and operate a couple new pipelines to LNG terminals.

Tim <likes his pipeline guys and their high dividends!>

Note: most of my Pembina (PPL.to) shares were bought on sale under \$17 in 2020, they are now \$52.xx.

I’ve owned TRP.to (TcEnergy Corp) so long I don’t even recall who was my trading platform at the time was (Suspect RBC and using the phone), when I bought them. }};-@

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Pipeline companies are a good place to ride out inflation because they make money delivering necessary products such as Nat Gas and Oil to refineries as well as finished products to market.

The volume of that necessary product changes with economic activity. I remember driving to work in 82-83, and noticing how little traffic there was, somewhat like April/May 2020, when much of the economy was shut down. If the Fed decides to strangle the economy to that degree again, so that wages can be rolled back to “fight inflation”, fuel demand will probably fall again.

Steve

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Tim <likes his pipeline guys and their high dividends!>

https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/video/it-s-a-long-way-from-here-…

It’s a long way from here to recession: Advisors Capital Management’s Chuck Lieberman
Chuck Lieberman, chief investment officer at Advisors Capital Management, joins BNN Bloomberg and talks about the U.S. economy has too much momentum at present. He says investors should pick sectors that can profit from inflation, such as REITs and energy pipelines, which will see their asset values rise and mortgage liabilities erode. He also believes net interest margins of banks will recover with rising rates, and their earnings will be sharply higher in the second half of this year. Lieberman’s stock picks include Simon Property Group (SPG: NYSE) and Energy Transfer (ET: NYSE).

Oh yes, Canadian banks … I have three of them.

Tim

Oh yes, Canadian banks … I have three of them.

I hold the two that are above the law and manipulate markets for fun and profit: Goldman and JPM.

Steve

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Rent: \$1,000/mo (low estimate for a 2 bedroom, 1 bath apartment)

That’s an extraordinary low estimate, IMO, for much of the country. Good luck getting a studio for that.

IP

Based on this back-of-the-envelope math, I reasonably assume that thousands (perhaps millions) of Americans are being forced into either insolvency or poverty as a result of inflation in the form of America’s rising cost of living.

This is part of why so many people are changing jobs now … because you get an average 14% salary increase when you do.

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This is part of why so many people are changing jobs now … because you get an average 14% salary increase when you do.

A couple weeks ago I noticed that a couple fast-food places were offering “up to” \$16 an hour as a starting wage for burger-flippers and french-fry-slingers, while a pharmacy was also offering \$16 an hour for pharmacy technicians. And I found this mildly worrying.

So today I see that the local Walmart is trying to hire overnight stocking crew at \$17.50.

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“…two that are above the law and manipulate markets for fun and profit: Goldman and JPM.”

Steve,

A more truthful and accurate statement has never been written.

So today I see that the local Walmart is trying to hire overnight stocking crew at \$17.50.

Night jobs suck. So now while people, even low skilled people, have so many different options at various wage levels, night jobs will require a hefty premium.

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Oh yes, Canadian banks … I have three of them.

Yeah, thanks to you, I do too!

Desert (CVX, XOM, T, BNS, BKH, ED, ATGFF, NI, NWN, TRP, ENB, WRE, WGL, XEL, DUK, SO & KO) Dave