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Charted: Four Decades of U.S. Inflation



Four Decades of U.S. Inflation

Charted: Four Decades of U.S. Inflation

In May 2022, the annual rate of U.S. inflation grew to 8.6%—the highest it’s been in four decades, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What’s driving this surge, and what products are seeing the most significant price jumps?

This visualization by Pablo Alvarez shows U.S. inflation levels since 1982 and highlights a few product categories that have seen the biggest year-over-year increases.

The Category Breakdown

Perhaps unsurprisingly, energy sources have seen the biggest year-over-year climb. Gasoline has seen one of the biggest spikes, up 48.7% since May 2021.

Item% yearly change (May 2022)
Gasoline (all types)48.7%
Natural Gas30.2%
All items8.6%

Across the U.S., the average price of gas sat at $4.807 per gallon as of July 4, and experts predict this figure could grow to $6 per gallon by the end of the summer.

While fuel prices were on the upswing prior to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, due to loosening COVID-19 restrictions and increased demand for travel, the conflict sent oil prices skyrocketing. This is because many countries placed sanctions on Russian oil, which put a squeeze on global supply.

Food has also seen a massive cost spike, up 10.1% since May 2021. This is largely due to supply-chain issues, increased transportation costs, and fertilizer shortages.

The Spending Spree Continues

Despite rising prices, many consumers have been continuing to spend. In May 2022, personal consumption expenditures (which account for inflation) were up 0.5% compared to the month prior, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Rather than adjust their spending habits, Americans have been relying on their savings to cope with price hikes. A recent survey of over 2,000 Americans showed that 67% of respondents have used some of their savings to deal with price increases, and 23% have made a substantial dent in their nest eggs.

To help combat inflation, central banks have been raising interest rates to encourage savings and ultimately slow down spending. But this is a delicate dance—if rates are raised too fast and spending screeches to a halt, this could lead to a recession.

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This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.

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Mapped: The 10 U.S. States With the Highest Cost of Living

Hawaii secured the top spot as the U.S. state with the highest cost of living, with an average annual expenditure of $55,491.



cropped map of US states with highest cost of living

The 10 U.S. States With the Highest Cost of Living

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Ever wondered where your dollar stretches the least in the U.S.?

States vary significantly when it comes to cost of living, which takes into account expected expenses for essentials like housing, food, and transportation.

In this graphic, we map out the top 10 U.S. states with the highest annual cost of living in 2024. The cost of living figures are based on data calculated by Forbes Advisor.

Calculating Cost of Living

To calculate the cost of living in each state, Forbes Advisor calculated annual expenses for housing, healthcare, taxes, food, and transportation.

Their data sources include C2ER, KFF, MIT Living Wage Calculator, and the U.S. Census Bureau. You can read more about their methodology here.

Hawaii is the State with the Highest Cost of Living

The sunny state of Hawaii is the most expensive state to live in, with an average annual cost of living of $55,491.

RankStateTotal Yearly Cost of Living
4New York$49,623
5New Jersey$49,511
U.S. Average$40,466

Despite having the highest cost of living ($55,491), Hawaii also has the lowest annual average salary ($61,420) among these 10 states.

This leaves residents with an annual disposable income of $5,929–the lowest out of all 50 states.

Some factors that contribute to Hawaii’s high cost of living are its high housing costs due to housing shortages and high income taxes.

Coastal Life Isn’t Cheap

Life on either coast isn’t cheap, either.

All four West Coast states make the top 10 list, while Northeastern states like New York, Massachusetts, and New Jersey also make an appearance. New York City is consistently ranked as one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in.

About 40% of the U.S. population lives on the coast, but the coast only accounts for less than 10% of the country’s land mass.

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