In a typical recession, the lowest end of the wage scale is usually the most affected as people cut back on eating out, shopping, car repairs, etc. This is an unusual recession we face in that plenty of jobs are available but wages are no way keeping up with inflation. The war in Europe has resulted in sharp energy increases. This impacts almost every sector of the economy from personal expenses to shipping goods from travel to food production. On top of an already strained supply chain, prices for most every thing has increased dramatically.
Doubling the impact on low and middle wage earners is the lack of affordable housing options. The low stock of single family homes has hurt many people looking to find a starter house. In a town like Tallahassee with 60,000 students, multi-family housing is dedicated more to students than families seeking affordable rents. Construction materials inflation and worker shortages has kept new construction way behind demand.
What are some of the solutions a community can look at? Clearly increasing the minimum wage can help many earn enough to cover more essentials. But food and fuel inflation will have to be moderated to allow wages to catch up and there is a limit to what may small businesses can afford.
Rent increases are becoming more common as housing stocks dry up. Some communities are seeking ways to limit drastic increases and ruthless evictions. But the free market advocates clearly see a danger in rent control. Cities and counties are going to have to find incentives to encourage developers to build affordable and low income housing. With the increase in mean wages in a community like Leon County, affordable housing as currently defined is far beyond the reach of a large portion of the population. Affordable multi-family attached houses or apartments for low wage earners are hard to interest many developers without significant tax breaks, zoning changes or other incentives.
Food insecurity, homelessness and poor health outcomes often thought of as an impact of a recession. Today we see both inflation and a recession taking its toll. And many community social services are feeling the strain, and need everyone to realize the situation many individuals and families are facing and the need for everyone to pitch in and help.