(Thomas Dishaw) Can you feel the pain? I know I can. As an average middle class family it’s always a challenge to make your money stretch. From the basic goods at the grocery store, to your kids college tuition, or just getting the rent paid on time can be a disaster to most Americans. Regardless of what the mainstream media keeps reporting, the economy isn’t stable, basic goods continue to rise with no end in sight, and once they go up they very rarely come down.
Pundits brag about our low unemployment rate of 5.3%, while 93,770,000 million Americans aren’t in the labor force. Wall Street money junkies boast of record highs, only to sucker every last penny you have into their ponzi scheme before the collapse. US Debt continues to climb to record levels, so the Federal Reserve keeps secretly printing money. Welcome to the Orwell Economy where nothing is as it seems.
Don’t worry about the middle class being wiped out because basically it already is. There are two classes of people in this country: the rich and poor. There are people who can pay their bills and people who can’t. It’s that simple. And once the poor find out they’re poor its game over for the rich. You ever wonder why the elite continue to build bunkers? They are preparing for the biggest threat to their existence, the uprising of the poor.
Below are the 10 biggest expenses that continue to destroy whats left of the middle class. Feel free to add any other expenses in the comment section that I may have missed.
SKY HIGH LOS ANGELES COUNTY RENTS PUSH 13,000 A MONTH INTO HOMELESSNESS
A study just released by the Economic Roundtable agrees. It identifies two trends in the last 15 years which have created a housing crisis.
“While rental prices have increased nearly 30 percent, at the same time, the incomes of the lower income households have declined 7 percent,” says Matt Schwartz, President and CEO of the California Housing Partnership.
What’s needed, he says, is more affordable housing like the Larry Itliong Village in historic Filipinotown.
Tenant Ana Gomez says she obtained a three-bedroom unit here and pays $980 per month. Her previous dwelling was a one-bedroom for $1,400. That was a squeeze for her four children as Gomez worked two jobs.
The report says 13,000 people are forced into the street each month in Los Angeles County because of housing costs.
RENT FOR ONE-BEDROOMS IN SAN FRANCISCO THROUGH THE ROOF
Rents in San Francisco are through the roof and now local data company Priceonomics.com has broken down the costs for one-bedrooms throughout the city.
Right now, median asking rents in Civic Center are $3,783. Bernal Heights is $3,200 and the Mission is $3,610.
All three areas are up 90 to 100 percent in the past four years.
EGGS PRICES INCREASE 84.9% IN JUNE
After rising 84.9 percent in June, prices for farm-level eggs decreased 21.3 percent from June to July; prices are now up 70.4 percent from July 2014 levels. Egg prices are among the most volatile of food prices, typically peaking in the fourth quarter of the year and then falling in the first quarter of the new year. Prices are also affected by HPAI, which has reduced the count of table-egg laying birds in many Midwestern and Pacific Northwestern States. ERS forecasts farm-level egg prices to increase 20.0 to 21.0 percent in 2015 and 10.0 to 11.0 percent in 2016.
CALIFORNIA’S GOVT INDUCED DROUGHT WILL SEND FOOD PRICES SKYROCKETING
The California Department of Food and Agriculture reports that “California’s agricultural abundance includes more than 400 commodities. The state produces nearly half of US-grown fruits, nuts and vegetables. Across the nation, US consumers regularly purchase several crops produced solely in California.”
So when California produces fewer crops, the economics of food changes in at least two ways.
First, the cost of California produced food, more than half the nation’s supply, will increase. Simple economics, the less of a product that is wanted, the higher the price.
The second effect will be the increased importation of food from Mexico and Central and South America. Already peaches and other fruits from Chile are flooding the California fruit markets. This helps the Chile economy, but once sold in the United States, at a lower price than American grown fruit, it will keep and grow market share. Like American manufacturing has been sent overseas, it looks like food production is joining them.
2016 SUPERMARKET PRICES PROJECTED TO INCREASE 3%
In 2016, ERS predicts supermarket prices to rise 2.0 to 3.0 percent—a rate of inflation that remains in line with the historical average. These forecasts are based on an assumption of normal weather conditions; however, severe weather events could potentially drive up food prices beyond the current forecasts. In particular, the ongoing drought in California could have large and lasting effects on fruit, vegetable, dairy, and egg prices. Conversely, if oil prices continue to fall or remain low throughout 2015 and 2016, subsequent decreases in production and transportation costs may be passed on to the retail level.
USDA FOOD PRICE OUTLOOK
COLLEGE TUITION TOPS 50K PER YEAR ON AVERAGE IN U.S. STATES
College costs continue to move higher but just how big a tab you might pay depends on what state you live in. California’s Harvey Mudd University is the most expensive with tuition, and room and board costs totaling $67,255. Coming in second was New York’s Columbia University at $66,383 and Illinois’ University of Chicago was third at $64,965.
Astonishingly, college costs spiked above $60,000 per year in 23 of the nation’s 50 states. The analysis of the most expensive universities by state was conducted by Business Insider.
SCREENSHOT COURTESY OF BUSINESS INSIDER
COLLEGE TEXTBOOK PRICES HAVE RISEN 1,041 PERCENT SINCE 1977
According to NBC’s review of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, textbook prices have risen over three times the rate of inflation from January 1977 to June 2015, a 1,041 percent increase.
“They’ve been able to keep raising prices because students are ‘captive consumers.’ They have to buy whatever books they’re assigned,” said Nicole Allen, a spokeswoman for the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition.
In some ways, this is similar to a pharmaceutical sales model where the publishers spend their time wooing the decision makers to adopt their product. In this case, it’s professors instead of doctors.
“Professors are not price-sensitive and they then assign and students have no say,” said Ariel Diaz, CEO of Boundless, a free and low-cost textbook publisher.
John Brecher / NBC News
Unlike drugs, there’s no “textbook insurance” to cover the out of pocket costs.
OVERDRAFT FEES TOP $1 BILLION IN FIRST QUARTER FOR BIG 3 BANKS
America’s three biggest banks — JPMorgan Chase (), Bank of America ( ) and Wells Fargo( ) — made more than $1.1 billion on overdraft fees in the first three months of the year.
Despite efforts to curb these charges after the financial crisis, they are still a big money maker for banks.
If the fee collection pace keeps up, the big three banks are on track bring in $4.5 billion in overdraft charges by the end of this year. That works out to about $20 for every American adult.
BANKS ACCUSED OF ILLEGALLY FIXING ATM FEES
Big banks and credit card companies are accused of fixing prices at ATMs. A federal appeals court has revived a lawsuit accusing MasterCard, Visa and three major banks of illegally fixing the rates they charge customers at the ATM.
The appeals court found it’s possible payment processors worked with big banks like Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase to adopt anticompetitive fees. The lawsuit claims the companies prevent independent ATM operators from charging less when cheaper processing networks are available.
“It’s your money. Why should you pay someone else to get it out of it? I mean I understand they’ve got to pay someone to put the money, pay the ATM, but come on,” Daniel Kazimirov of Westfield said.
WATER PRICES HAVE RISEN 41% SINCE 2010
“We expect water rates to continue to grow above inflation for some time,” Ward told Circle of Blue. “We don’t see an end in sight.”
Continuing a trend that reflects the disrepair and shows no sign of slowing, the price of residential water service in 30 major U.S. cities rose faster than the cost of nearly every other household staple last year, according to Circle of Blue’s annual water pricing survey.
The economics of water — particularly the cost of treatment, pumping, and new infrastructure, as well as the retail price for consumers — gained renewed prominence as California and Texas, America’s two most populous states, face historic droughts and water managers seek to rein in water consumption, with price increases as one tool in their arsenal.
The average monthly cost of water for a family of four using 100 gallons per person per day climbed 6 percent, according to data collected from the utilities. It is the smallest year-to-year change in the six-year history of the Circle of Blue survey but comparable to past years. The median increase this year was 4.5 percent. In comparison, the Consumer Price Index rose just 1.8 percent in the 12 months ending in March, not including the volatile food and energy sectors. Including food and energy, prices fell by 0.1 percent.
For families using 150 gallons and 50 gallons per person per day, average water prices rose 6 percent and 5.2 percent, respectively.
FACING RISING DENTAL COSTS, AMERICANS HEAD TO MEXICO
For Bolzern, seeing a dentist in Los Algodones meant a savings of up to $62,000. He was told the extensive dental work he needed – his teeth needed to be raised and he needed a crown on every molar – would cost $65,000 at a private dentist.
He looked for lower rates, finding a dental school where the work was less expensive because it was performed by students. But it still cost $35,000.
He paid $3,000 in Mexico and has been back several times.
The cost of dental care has surged in the last two decades and continues to increase at a rate of 5 percent annually.
Many dental plans have high deductibles and don’t offer extensive coverage. Many people opt out.
Mexico has lower costs because of cheaper labor and fewer regulatory requirements.
THE AVERAGE NEW CAR PAYMENT INCHES CLOSE TO $500 PER MONTH
Consumers making loan payments on new cars paid an average of $483, compared to the $361 coming out of the pockets of used-car drivers. That difference adds up to a lot over the life of a loan, even when you consider the fact that used-car loans generally carry higher interest rates than new-car loans: The average interest rate for used-vehicle loans was 9.1% in the second quarter (up from 8.8% in Q2 2014), and the average interest rate for new-vehicle loans was 4.8% (up from 4.6%), according to the report.
Of course, used-car buyers generally finance a smaller sum than those buying new cars, which contributes to the payment difference, but new-car buyers are more likely to stretch their loan payments out over a longer period of time, which actually brings the average monthly payment figure down. In the second quarter, loan terms of 73 to 84 months (about six to seven years) made up 28.8% of all new car loans (a 19.7% increase from the same time last year), whereas terms of that length made up 16.1% of used loans (a 14.8% year-over-year increase). A lower interest rate won’t help you save much if you’re dragging repayment out for many years, racking up interest along the way.
AVERAGE USED CAR PRICE HITS RECORD HIGH OF $18,800
Used cars are following the pricey road paved by new cars.
Used-car prices hit a record high in the second quarter of 2015, climbing 7.6 percent year-over-year to an average of $18,800, according to a new study by car shopping site Edmunds.com.
The price growth mirrors the average transaction price for new light-duty vehicles, which hit a near-record $33,340 in the second quarter this year.
8- PRESCRIPTION DRUG PRICES
HIGH DRUG PRICES ARE KILLING AMERICANS
With some cancer drug prices soaring past $10,000 a month, doctors have begun to ask one nagging question: Do drug prices correctly reflect the value they bring to patients by extending or improving their lives?
A study published Thursday in JAMA Oncology aims to answer that question by examining necitumumab, an experimental lung cancer drug….in a clinical trial, researchers found that
adding the drug to chemotherapy extended life by 1.6 months, on average.
DIABETES DRUGS SOAR UP TO 300%
Just as runaway costs have affected cancer drugs, sticker shock is jolting diabetics with price increases ranging from 93 percent to more than 300 percent in five years.
All told, the cost of diabetes medications is expected to continue rising over the next three years at a pace of 18.3 percent annually, a growth rate estimated to be 60 times greater than recent increases in family income…
PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES BUY RIVAL’S DRUGS,THEN JACK UP PRICES
On Feb. 10, Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. bought the rights to a pair of life-saving heart drugs. The same day, their list prices rose by 525% and 212%.
Neither of the drugs, Nitropress or Isuprel, was improved as a result of costly investment in lab work and human testing, Valeant said. Nor was manufacture of the medicines shifted to an expensive new plant. The big change: the drugs’ ownership.
“Our duty is to our shareholders and to maximize the value” of the products that Valeant sells, said Laurie Little, a company spokeswoman. “Sometimes pricing comes into it, sometimes volume comes into it.”
More pharmaceutical companies are buying drugs that they see as undervalued, then raising the prices. It is one of a number of industry tactics, along with companies regularly upping the prices of their own older medicines and launching new treatments at once unheard of sums, driving up the cost of drugs.
Since 2008, branded-drug prices have increased 127%, compared with an 11% rise in the consumer price index, according to drug-benefits manager Express Scripts Holding Co. Needham & Co. said in a June 2014 research note there were as many as 50% drug-price increases during the previous 2½ years as there were in the prior decade.
MEDIAN HOME PRICE SOAR TO $236,400
The rollercoaster of a housing market reached another high point, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Existing home sales rose 3.2 percent in June 2015 to a seasonally adjusted 5.49 million-unit annual rate. That is a 9.6 percent increase in sales from the previous year and the highest level since February 2007, before the housing crisis took its toll on the market. Economists had been predicting a rate of 5.40 million units.
Prices have also been rising. The median existing home price across all housing types was $236,400 in June. That tops the peak value of $230,400 set almost nine years ago. The June rise marks forty straight months of year-over-year increases in prices.
DALLAS HOME PRICES UP 12.5%
Dallas-Fort Worth was among the top markets in the country for home price hikes in a new second quarter comparison.
D-FW prices were up 12.5 percent in the National Association of Realtors latest quarterly survey of 176 U.S. metropolitan areas. Prices were higher in 163 of the cities included in the report released Tuesday.
HOME PRICES IN 20 U.S. CITIES INCREASED 5% IN YEAR TO JUNE
Home prices in 20 U.S. cities climbed 5 percent in June from the same month a year earlier, a sign of more progress in the housing market.
The increase in the S&P/Case-Shiller index of property values matched the year-over-year gains in the prior three months, the group said Tuesday in New York. The median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 5.1 percent year-over-year advance. Nationally, prices rose 4.5 percent.
All 20 cities in the index showed a year-over-year gain, led by a 10.2 percent increase in Denver. Property values climbed 9.5 percent in San Francisco and 8.2 percent in Dallas.
“The price gains have been consistent as the unemployment rate declined with steady inflation and an unchanged Fed policy,” David Blitzer, chairman of the S&P index committee, said in a statement.
The price increases accelerated in 11 cities in June from the same time in 2014, compared with the 12 months ended in May. Phoenix and Detroit had the longest streaks of year-over-year gains.
HEALTH CARE COSTS SET FOR A DRAMATIC PRICE INCREASE
It may be old news to hear that health insurance will soon become much more expensive, partially as a result of the Affordable Care Act. However I was surprised to learn about the extent to which the costs will increase. According to an article that I found recently in the WIlmington StarNews, Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) of North Carolina admitted that it now seeks an average 34.6 percent higher premium for insurance sold under the ACA.
BCBS also stated in June that it wants to raise rates by as much as 26 percent starting in January 2016, along with this year’s allowed 13.5 percent increase. The company’s stated justifications for the increases are that certain expectations about the health insurance overhaul law haven’t come to fruition.
300,000 IN MASS TO SEE HEALTH RATES RISE 6%
Health insurers in Massachusetts will boost rates more than 6 percent for small businesses and individuals in 2016, a troubling sign that costs are once again accelerating.
The increase, approved by the state Division of Insurance last week, is more than double the rise in premiums at the beginning of this year and triple the rise in 2014.
The new rates will affect about 300,000 people who buy health insurance on their own or work for small businesses with 50 or fewer employees and will renew plans in January.
HEALTHCARE PREMIUMS TO DOUBLE FOR MORE THAN 34,000 FLORIDA KIDS
The high cost of health care is jumping even more for thousands of Florida families.
Families with healthcare through “Florida Healthy Kids” are finding out this week that their rates will soon be doubling.
The spike is due to Florida Healthy Kids needing to meet minimum requirements of the Affordable Health Care Act.
The board for Florida Healthy Kids says one of the most expensive changes is the elimination of a lifetime insurance cap.
Until now, if a patient’s care needs cost more than a million dollars to the insurer, the company could simply stop paying.
For better or for worse the change leaves more than 34,000 kids in Florida and thier families, that don’t qualify for subsidies, feeling the squeeze.
“You, we’re kind of blindsided by this?” Asked NewsChannel 5’s Jared Werksma. “Absolutely, 100 percent blindsided” answered Deanna Kirkpatrick of Lake Worth.
Kirkpatrick says her 9-year-old son has been insured by Florida Healthy Kids since he turned eligible at age 5.
“And it’s excellent coverage.” Said Kirkpatrick.
But now the cost is doubling for her first born.
“$456 a month for 2 children. $299 Just for the 9 -year-old. Every month!” Says Kirkpatrick.
And she’s just 18 months from the premium doubling for her three-year-old as well.
“I would like to not blame state government but I whole hearteldy do.” Said Kirkpatrick.