Because they spend a higher share of their income on the basics like food and fuel, low-income Americans have been hit hard by soaring gasoline and heating costs and jumps in the prices of staples such as milk, eggs and bread. Thus, the number of food stamp recipients is growing due to a recession combined with a rapid increase in these basic consumer goods. For decades, the annual growth percent for essential needs was about 2.5%. In 2008, basic goods will increase nearly 5% in a growing recession economy, loss of jobs and fuel prices that have greatly raised the prices of practically everything.
In regards to the poor and the ever-increasing gas prices, USA Today recently reported, "Higher gas prices are likely to impact low-income workers more because they are less capable of making adjustments," says Qing Shen, professor of urban studies and planning at the University of Maryland at College Park.
The impact of the recent run-up could be long-lasting. To help pay elevated gasoline bills, low-income drivers often take out payday and other high-interest loans or put gas and other expenses on high-rate credit cards. Such debt can take a long time to pay off. "This is a vicious cycle," Sandoval says. "Once they get in it, they can't get out" says Juan Onésimo Sandoval, assistant professor of urban transportation and urban sociology at Northwestern University.
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