Posts Tagged ‘economy’

Photo by John Cameron on Unsplash

By: Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – I miss the days when I could get my grocery list at one store.

I am one of those people who go to the grocery store several times a week; I plan a meal and then I go get what I need. I avoid canned vegetables when I can and buy fresh whenever possible. For the most part, I buy meat when it’s on sale and stock the freezer. I seldom keep milk (unless I’m on a rare cereal binge) but we always have eggs.

So, I’m in a grocery store several times a week depending on what is going on in my kitchen. As threats of food shortages loom, I am one of those people that will have to readjust my shopping habits.  And you know, the strangest things end up being absent from the shelves. There is no rhyme or reason to it, as a rule.

Is this regional? Nationwide? I mean, are saltines missing all over the country, or just where I am? A couple of weeks ago it was pasta; no egg noodles were to be found at any store in town. For the longest time I couldn’t get Powerade. It’s just weird. And not that I buy them, but my store is always out of Ramen noodles. Huge bare gaps in the shelves where Ramen used to be plentiful.

Now I am hearing about an egg shortage, and it makes me wish I kept chickens.

Not really.

I don’t want chickens.

But again: changing shopping habits. As this weird shortage thing continues, we may even have to change eating habits, too.

Food prices are also changing how we all shop. I’ve never been a coupon clipper; I tried it years ago. I would hear about women that saved 75% of their grocery bill using coupons and taking advantage of rebates, but I could never achieve that. I would forget my coupons, or I would resent having to purchase three bottles of ketchup to save twenty-five cents and so I’d just buy one bottle when I needed it. Coupon clipping never worked for me.

That being said, I do find myself checking the sale papers now and when things I actually use are on sale I will stock up and buy extra. I’ve never done that before and I don’t have a lot of storage room in my kitchen.

I say all of this not because anyone on the planet cares about my shopping habits, but I do have concern about where all of this shortage business will end, and I worry about how prices will go. Reportedly, food prices will rise at least another ten percent in coming days. I don’t know how struggling families will manage these higher fuel and food prices.

I’m no economist by any means but even I can see that it is the working middle class that is getting hammered. Those people who don’t qualify for SNAP benefits and who are working multiple jobs just to hang on – these are the people that are suffering.

Obviously.

I have set out a couple of tomato plants and I wish I had room for a full-blown garden. Maybe we all need to go back to neighborhood Victory gardens

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and at Medium; she is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT  — My husband has taken to walking through the grocery store commenting in a very loud voice, with obvious disdain, “Let’s go Brandon!”

He does most of the grocery shopping in our house and does a lot of it on the nearby Air Force base where the commissary allows us to save a bit of money. We also shop at a couple of neighborhood grocery stores; you know how it is…this store has better meat, that one better produce.

My husband is absolutely incensed at the rising prices for groceries and is quick to comment, “And we haven’t seen anything yet!”

As it turns out, he’s not wrong.

Kraft Heinze and Proctor & Gamble have announced huge price hikes coming to a store near you very soon.

Kraft Heinz (KHC) said in a recent letter to its customers that it will raise prices in March on dozens of products, including Oscar Mayer cold cuts, hot dogs, sausages, bacon, Velveeta cheese, Maxwell House coffee, TGIF frozen chicken wings, Kool-Aid and Capri Sun drinks.

The increases range from 6.6% on 12oz Velveeta Fresh Packs to 30% on a three-pack of Oscar Mayer turkey bacon. Most cold cuts and beef hot dogs will go up around 10% and coffee around 5%. Some Kool-Aid and Capri Sun drink packs will increase by about 20%…Last week, Procter & Gamble (PG) said that it was raising prices for its retail customers by an average of about 8% in February on Tide and Gain laundry detergents, Downy fabric softener and Bounce dryer sheets. Conagra (CAG), which makes such brands as Slim Jim, Marie Callender’s and Birds Eye, recently said it will raise prices later this year as well.

We are seeing the steepest hike in prices in nearly forty years.

Add to that grocery shelves that still have bare spots on every aisle and it’s no wonder that grocery shoppers are getting irritable.

Sometimes I even feel like a hoarder…my son, for example, favors a certain blue sports drink. It’s been very hard to find, but today I went to the store and found the shelves full of this drink! I bought several eight-packs just because I wasn’t sure when it would come back around. I know this only adds to the problem, but….

And so, my husband blames Joe Biden for all of this and walks through the store with his blood pressure rising, angrily tossing things into his card, saying “Let’s go Brandon” in a loud voice, ignoring the side eye glances from other shoppers.

Imagine how fun he will be to shop with when all these companies raise their prices this spring!

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and at Medium; she is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.

Help Wanted!

Posted: October 12, 2021 by chrisharper in Uncomfortable Truths
Tags: , ,

By Christopher Harper

As you drive throughout central Pennsylvania, it’s difficult not to notice something other than fall foliage: Help wanted signs abound throughout the region.

On Route 11, which snakes along the countryside near my home, more than 70 signs seeking employees dominate the highway. 

Fred Gaffney, executive director of Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce, told a local newspaper that he’s at a loss to say why. “This is a workforce crisis unlike anything I’ve seen in my years at the Chamber,” Gaffney said.

Recently, a local job fair featured more than 500 openings from 25 employers. But only 40 people attended, Gaffney said. Businesses in the area have raised their minimum wages to $15 an hour and higher. 

What’s happening near my home is occurring throughout the country. According to the National Federation of Independent Business, 67% of small businesses reported hiring or trying to hire in September, and 42% raised compensation. But a record 51% still have openings they couldn’t fill.

The Wall Street Journal postulated in a recent editorial: “So what’s causing the worker shortage? One possible culprit is government and employer vaccine mandates that set ultimatums for workers. President Biden’s vaccine order first applied to nursing homes, which lost jobs in the month. Many states and school districts have also imposed mandates, and state and local education employment fell 161,000. The White House claims its vaccine mandates will boost job growth, but not if unvaccinated workers quit.”

The lack of workers has clearly become a drag on the economy. Ships are backed up at ports partly because there aren’t workers to unload and transport goods to where they need to go. Labor and material shortages are delaying projects and increasing prices in the home-building sector.

Another factor is that it doesn’t pay to work in some cases when the government provides enough money to keep people off the job. 

For my wife and me, it’s meant postponing work on our new home because there aren’t enough painters and other tradespeople to perform needed maintenance. For example, we can’t get anyone to paint the exterior of our house until next spring.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration seemingly has no strategy to solve the problems.

In an interview with Business Insider, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh has a lame analysis:

–People are afraid to go back to work because of the Delta variant.

–People have moved out of areas where employers are hiring.

–People are rethinking their attitude toward work—what one psychologist has called the “the great resignation.”

“I think a lot of people are re-imagining or rethinking about what’s next for them,” Walsh said. The pandemic has changed people’s views about work, causing them to “ask existential questions about their purpose and happiness,” Business Insider noted. 

Whatever the case, it would appear that the labor conflagration won’t be solved anytime soon, particularly under this administration.

I guess I may have to get out the work clothes and ladder to ponder the existential question of whether to paint or not to paint.

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT:  Random thoughts and observations today.

Help Wanted.  Have you noticed that nobody wants to work anymore? I mean, with this extended unemployment and the stimulus rollouts, the restaurants and shops around here are all begging for help. Almost everywhere you go there are help wanted signs. We went to a Mexican restaurant after church today and the first thing the hostess told us was “we are short of servers today – nobody wants to work…”.  It’s crazy.  I went to Bed, Bath, & Beyond later: also help wanted signs. They’re everywhere.  If you want a part-time job, this might be a really good time to find one. I’m thinking about it! I’m retiring from teaching in less than a month; a little side-hustle might not be a bad thing.

What? Retiring?!  Yes, after twenty-five years, I am done. As of May 28, I’ll be officially retired. Mentally, I’m already there. We took our end of course tests last week – six weeks early because the State was concerned about quarantines. So mentally, the students are done, too; they think, why bother? We took the test already.

To be honest, I’d love to have gone five more years and retire at 30 years; it is about a $300 a month pay cut for me to go now (thus, the side-hustle), but I can mentally no longer battle kids with cellphones, TikTok, terrible curriculum, and apathy. I. Just. Can’t. 

My husband has been retired from the police department for several years and he is bored senseless. I don’t think I’ll have that problem: I’m looking forward to time for writing, doing another book, a million and five home projects, working in the yard, and traveling. But, maybe I’ll tire of all that, too. He doesn’t really have many hobbies and I think it is important to keep busy. We will see. 

But, yeah: twenty-four more days of school. Do it.

Seacor Power Tragedy: President Donald Trump has donated 10K to the United Cajun Navy to help search and rescue efforts in the Seacor Power tragedy.

United Cajun Navy founder Todd Terrell confirmed Friday that the former president made a hefty donation toward the rescue efforts of the seven men who are still missing from the Seacor Power crew.

The U.S. Coast Guard suspended their search for the missing crew members on Monday at sunset. At that time, officials said they do not expect to find more survivors from the vessel.

Officials spent several days searching for the missing workers from the oil industry lift boat Seacor Power, which capsized on April 13 during a fierce storm in the Gulf of Mexico south of Port Fourchon. Six of the 19 workers on the boat were rescued within hours of the wreck; five more bodies were found in the water.

This has been a terrible tragedy and so devastating to watch and hear from these families. Heartbreaking.

Kudos to President Trump.  Thank you.

Y’all have a good week!

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport, at Medium, and is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.