A High Schooler’s Worst Nightmare: Inflation

As many of you may know, our economy is experiencing major inflation. This is the worst inflation since the 1980s. The most recent Consumer Price Index–which is a measure for inflation on a handful of basic goods–showed that in the past 12 months, prices rose 8.5%, which is significantly greater than the normal change in 2020, which was a 1.2% increase.
This price increase is due to a few things, one being supply and demand after COVID-19. As Forbes explains, “Elevated inflation has been driven by supply chain disruptions and pent-up consumer demand for goods following the reopening of the economy in 2021.” Before this point, COVID caused the supply of all goods to decrease, causing our demands for goods to be unmatched. Demand had also increased due to the government adding money into our economy, through stimulus checks and more.
People all across the board are affected by this, including high schoolers paying for basic necessities. Although our payment burden is, on average, much less than an adult’s, inflation is still a major issue among high schoolers. Specifically, the prices of our gas, clothes, food, and more have all skyrocketed.
Gas prices are the main source of stress for high school students. On top of the inflation of gas prices caused by the public’s supply and demand following COVID, the Russia-Ukraine crisis has also greatly increased gas prices. Summarized very shortly, Russia invading Ukraine and the ban of imports of Russian energy from countries has caused oil prices to increase. When oil prices increase, gasoline prices follow. As the New York Times explained, “Since the Russian invasion, the average price of regular gas in the United States had increased 17 percent through Wednesday [March 9]. It was up 23 percent from the beginning of the year.” Dollar-wise, in Michigan, gas prices right now are on average 4$ per gallon, whereas in 2021, the U.S. cost was on average $3.01 per gallon, explains Statistica. Furthermore, this $3.01 price was even an increase from 2020’s gas prices.
Student Logan Field states that, “I’ve noticed gas prices have been going up because I’m a new driver, and now it’s like $4.10 a gallon.” Luckily, Field explains that he hasn’t had to modify his driving habits much, because, “I just drive where I need to go, to school, or baseball practice, or the store, but I don’t really do much driving other than that.”
Student Sharmel Gibson elaborates on this point, saying, “It takes us [her and her sister] double to fill up our gas tank, usually ranging around $90. We used to go on drives, but we don’t do that anymore because gas now costs a lot more.” Since driving around for fun has become such a costly activity, many high school students have had to give up this beloved pastime completely.
Berkley sophomore Rikki Newman explained that her gas bill has increased by at least 20 dollars. She adds that she has been trying to get a job due to the higher prices of not only gas, but clothing, food, and more.
Although we see the biggest change in gas prices, food and clothing prices have also increased. The current inflation has additionally caused the purchasing power of the USD to decrease and the wage price index to increase, which has confounded the issue by creating a need for more money in the US economy, causing food and clothing markets to raise their prices in order to stay afloat.
Gibson noticed this, saying, “My favorite restaurants and clothing brands recently raised their prices. The clothing company raised their prices five to ten dollars for each piece. I eat from home more now.”
Field also has the same experiences as Gibson, explaining that his family has seen a big change in their normal prices. “Whenever [we] order stuff, the clothing is much more expensive.”
With inflation being so severe, high school students are now being forced to acknowledge how global events can impact our economy. Because of this, high schoolers are learning the importance of being cautious with spending, and how to effectively save money.