By Emily Hoeven | CALMatters
(CALMATTERS) – If you’ve got your mind on your money and your money on your mind, you aren’t alone.
Driven largely by increases in the cost of food, housing and health care, inflation rose 8.2% in September compared to the same time last year, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics announced Thursday.
And the core inflation rate — which excludes volatile food and energy prices — soared by 6.6% over the same period, marking the largest uptick in four decades, according to the department.
The news doesn’t bode well for California, which already has a higher percentage of residents living in poverty than any other state in the nation when the cost of living is taken into account.
And Californians are also paying the highest gas prices in the country, according to AAA: Although the average cost for a gallon of regular fell to $6.20 in the Golden State on Thursday — down from a near-record high of $6.42 last week — that’s still much higher than the national average of $3.91.
But relief is on the way: California last week began sending $9.5 billion worth of rebates to millions of residents to help cover the soaring cost of living, though some may not see their checks until January.
- To find out if you’re eligible for a rebate — and, if so, how much you’ll receive — check out this nifty interactive calculator from CalMatters’ Grace Gedye and John Osborn D’Agostino.
- Many of California’s poorest and most vulnerable residents — including some seniors and disabled people — will be left out of the payments. But Californians getting by on federal Social Security will soon see a boost: Benefits are set to increase 8.7% starting in January, the Social Security Administration announced Thursday. That’s the largest cost-of-living-adjustment in more than 40 years, but many seniors worry it won’t be enough to keep up with soaring inflation rates.
Meanwhile, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration announced last week that it’s set to distribute a second round of $1.4 billion by the end of the year to help cover utility bills for Californians behind on their electricity and water payments.
And Newsom’s office continues to point to his proposal to enact a windfall profits tax on the oil and gas industry — which he wants state lawmakers to consider in a special legislative session starting Dec. 5 — as a way to return more money to Californians.
- Newsom’s office tweeted Thursday: “Oil companies saw the biggest one-day wholesale price drop EVER after CA took action to lower gas prices… but those savings aren’t being passed to you. It doesn’t add up. Time to take the windfall profits of greedy oil companies and put that $$ back in your pockets.”
- Republican lawmakers, meanwhile, are making inflation rates a centerpiece of their campaigns heading into the Nov. 8 election.
- Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher of Yuba City said in a Thursday statement: “Bidenflation combined with skyrocketing cost of living in California is crushing family budgets. There’s no more denying it … the policy agenda of the Democrat supermajority is failing and we’re witnessing the consequences in real time. It doesn’t have to be this way. Republicans have offered an alternative with solutions that will bring down costs and allow Californians to prosper.”