Berkeley residents and businesses are reacting to the effects of inflation on their everyday lives following price increases nationwide.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, reported a San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward Consumer Price Index, or CPI, of 6.8% and a national CPI of 9.1% as of June 2022. According to the BLS website, the CPI is an average measurement of percent increase in costs of common consumer goods.
“Costs like groceries are the biggest area where I can see increases in prices,” said local resident Ameer Mussard-Afcari.
Since June 2021, the BLS has reported a 13.8% increase in the price of food at home and a nearly 50% increase in motor fuel prices in the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward area. Mussard-Afcari said he has made lifestyle changes due to cost increases, including eating out and traveling less frequently.
Andrew Dickson, a graduate student at UC Berkeley, said meat prices have risen almost $1 per pound, leading him to purchase less. He added if prices continue to increase, he may make further changes, such as reducing the number of trips he takes in Uber and Gig cars.
“I’d like to see them do stuff in terms of raising the minimum wage more than I’m concerned about food costing a dollar more or gas costing a dollar more,” said Fiona Camakaka, a student at UC Berkeley, when asked about the local government’s response to the issue.
The city of Berkeley declined to comment on inflation and instead referred The Daily Californian to federal agencies.
Steven Sullivan, president and co-founder of Acme Bread Company, said his business saw cost increases of “almost $100,000 per month” due to the pandemic and a poor 2021 wheat harvest.
Sullivan noted that his business raised its minimum wage to $20 an hour in response to pandemic staffing shortages and inflation, adding that this represents a wage scale acceleration of several years compared to the business’s original plan. Acme Bread Company sets prices on a yearly basis in October, according to Sullivan, who noted that the business used a 4.5% inflation modifier when planning for the 2022 calendar year, significantly lower than the 6.8% that currently stands.
Sullivan said his business is breaking even this year rather than maintaining its usual net profit margin of 2.5-3%. He noted, however, that the product quality has not been reduced and the business will wait until the end of the year to reevaluate prices for 2023.
“All we really can do is evaluate very carefully what it’s going to take to accommodate increased inflation and try to adjust accordingly for the year and make our best case to our customers that the rate was justified,” Sullivan said.