In recent years the Sunshine State has found itself under the relentless grip of inflation, with the cost of living rising at a rate higher than the national average. Florida, once renowned for its affordability and economic opportunities, is grappling with the multifaceted challenges posed by soaring prices. For many Florida residents, the question of when the state will seek proper economic innovation still remains.
Florida’s rapid population expansion is certainly a contributing factor in the state’s economic disparities. The influx of residents drawn to Florida’s cost of living results in a hard impact on the housing market, energy and goods and services. As of last year, the federal government’s response has been to counteract inflation by raising interest rates. According to Forbes, it is expected that inflation will remain above 5% throughout 2024.
The effects of inflation are distinguishable in the daily lives of Floridians, impacting everything from groceries to healthcare. As prices continue to rise, the purchasing power of the average resident diminishes, leading to a decline in their overall standard of living. Basic necessities, such as food and fuel, have become more expensive, making it challenging for many families to make ends meet.
The director of the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Economic Forecasting, Sean Snaith, spoke with WFSU News Talia Blake, detailing that inflation will more than likely be an ongoing issue for several years and how post-pandemic, population growth and housing market shortages will ultimately result in higher inflation rates.
“That inflation still remains at a double digit level, which is propping up that overall inflation number. So, this is a problem that has been brewing, I would say, as far back as 2015-2016, where we were just not building enough new housing to keep up with demand,” Snaith said. “In any market where there are shortages, prices rise, and they rise more rapidly, the greater the shortage. So, yeah, unfortunately, I think that’s going to be part of our landscape here for several years at least, because you just can’t whip up housing the way you can an omelet to meet this demand.”
The battle over inflation in Florida has also cascaded into the daily routine for many college students. Although gas prices have trended down in Florida, many students remain at odds with increased expenses on bare necessities. Hannah Peterson, a third-year communications scholar at UCF, details how the increasing cost of living has affected her decision to relocate out of Orlando within the next year.
“Inflation has affected me in a lot of ways but its affected me the most with the prices of rent, it has sky rocketed which makes it so much harder for college students like me who simply cannot afford it. I now have to move back home, and it’s made it more difficult to buy groceries and other daily needs in my life.”
Small businesses are also at the forefront of the rippling effects of inflation. Rising operational costs, from increased wages to higher prices for goods and services, are squeezing profit margins and, in some cases, forcing closures. The struggle of these small businesses has a downhill effect, causing job losses and economic instability in local communities.
For students like Najahte’ King, a fourth-year construction engineering technology major at Florida A&M, the conversation about inflation is important. He uses his awareness of economic issues to put forth a greater effort in supporting his community.
“Inflation is like a huge Band Aid, a huge problem rather than a solution. Inflation wears the same clothes as a pseudoscience due to its false representation of economic resurgence,” King said. “On the positive side, inflation has both taught and allowed me to appreciate and interact with local small businesses twice as much than I had before.”
Florida’s struggle with inflation, exceeding the national average, paints a complex picture of economic challenges facing the state’s residents. As policymakers struggle to find sustainable solutions, the resilience of Florida’s residents and businesses will be tested in the face of these inflationary pressures.