Inflation easing but groceries still expensive

BURIEN, Wash. — On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve raised a key interest rate for the seventh time this year to fight inflation.

The latest inflation numbers show prices have slowed their dramatic rise, but this holiday season, people around Western Washington are still feeling the pain.

“Seriously, folks, inflation, it’s a nightmare,” Paul Morris said Wednesday outside a supermarket in Burien.

Chris Fredricksen is retired on a fixed income. “One day at a time, not spend like I used to,” she said about her strategy.

Joe Jordan finds success shopping the sales. “I’m finding butter at $2.50 a pound. That’s a good price. I just got rib-eye for $5.75,” he said.

This week’s update to the Consumer Price Index shows inflation leveled off more than expected, with overall prices up 7.1% from last year.

Grocery prices are still up 12% since 2021.

“There is always this uncertainty about the harvest, for example. It’s also multiplied by the uncertainty about the supply chains,” said Seattle University economist Vladimir Dashkeev, who said both Russia and Ukraine are big producers of wheat, and the war affects the supply of food.

Beyond groceries, the larger supply chain problems we saw during last year’s holiday season have eased, bringing a few prices down.

As for what happens next, University of Washington economist Jacob Vigdor says China’s COVID policies could be a big factor.

“So many of the things we buy at the store are manufactured in China and if those factories shut down because of COVID outbreaks, we could be seeing supply chain issues once again,” Vigdor said.