By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Prices for food and other consumer items probably will remain higher than average for at least a year, according to an economist with the University of Wyoming.
However, Anne Alexander told Cowboy State Daily that people should avoid “panic buying” because it will have a negative impact on the supply chain.
“Right now, we’re in this perfect storm of inflationary pressures,” The economist said Friday. “On the supply side, the supply chains are screwed up, partially because of labor shortages, but also because we’ve stopped producing as much of everything. On the demand side, we’re seeing almost panic buying.”
While Alexander does not believe the United States or Wyoming will see the level of inflation that affected the country from 1973 to 1982, she does not believe there will be any relief from current high prices until some time next year.
Wyoming’s cost of living has increased at a rate not seen in more than a decade, according to a recently released report from the state’s Economic Analysis Division.
The annual inflation rate of 7.7% recorded during the second quarter of the year — which ended June 30 — is the highest annual inflation rate seen since the second quarter of 2008, when the state’s inflation rate was 7.9%, according to the division’s inflation report.
Alexander explained that since Wyoming is a “microcosm of other places,” the state is seeing higher prices for basically every type of good and service now. She pointed to the state’s hospitality and tourism industry as being particular victims of the current inflation.
“We have a huge influx of people wanting to go outdoors to see Yellowstone or some of our other great treasures, but there aren’t enough workers in the hospitality sector,” she said. “So in addition to limiting hours of operations, some people are also having to jack up their prices to pay people to come work in their hotel, gift shop or restaurant.”
Prices as high as today’s have not been an issue since the early 1990s, so Alexander said that basically an entire generation has managed to grow up without seeing much inflation.
She noted that the pandemic was essentially the first domino to fall in the supply chain situation, as it interrupted a supply chain that was fragile to begin with.
While prices will stay high for likely another year, Alexander reminded Wyoming residents to never buy high, never sell low and do not panic buy.
“Your inclination might be to go buy a lot of stuff now before the prices go up, but that actually puts pressure on prices and makes things go up further,” she said.