Small Business Owners Lament Inflation

Overwhelmed businessman

As inflation continues to rise this year, small businesses are feeling the pain.

The National Federation of Independent Businesses released a survey of small business owners Tuesday that found the nation’s job creators cite inflation as their top concern more than any other issue.

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Americans are Getting Poorer While Prices Keep Going Up

Shopping

Americans’ real weekly earnings dropped sharply in April and still remain well below their level when President Joe Biden first took office, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Real average weekly earnings fell to $1,191.93 in April, declining by 0.4% in the month and 4.8% compared to the start of Biden’s term in January 2021, according to data calculated by the Daily Caller News Foundation from the BLS. Prices have risen over 19% since Biden first took office and 3.4% in the last year, degrading the value of Americans’ wages.

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Commentary: Solutions for America’s Unhealthy Economy

Worker That Is Stressed

LinkedIn is the worst social media site in existence.

Engaging with literal pornbots on Twitter is less soul-sucking than reading the tone-deaf striver banalities and motivational tripe that festoon the place: “Here are five things I learned about peer-to-peer marketing after proposing to my girlfriend,” etc. 

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Report: Equity Rich Mortgaged Homes See Third Straight Quarterly Decline

Home

The number of mortgaged homes that are equity rich have declined for three consecutive quarters, and the portion of mortgaged homes considered “seriously underwater” increased, according to a new report by ATTOM, a leading curator of land, property and real estate data.

ATTOM’s first-quarter 2024 U.S. Home Equity & Underwater Report found that 45.8% of mortgaged residential properties in the United States “were considered equity-rich in the first quarter, meaning that the combined estimated amount of loan balances secured by those properties was no more than half of their estimated market values.”

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Washington State County Approves Unincorporated Minimum Wage Hike, Ties National High

Cashier working

The King County Council has approved an ordinance that will increase the minimum wage in unincorporated parts of King County.

The legislation increases minimum wage to a high of $20.29, which ties the cities of Tukwila and Renton for the highest minimum wage in the nation.

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Walmart Cuts Hundreds of Jobs, Requires Remote Workers to Come to the Office

Walmart has announced layoffs impacting several hundred jobs at its campus offices and is requiring remote employees to come to the office. 

The retail giant said in a staff memo Tuesday most of the remote workers and personnel in its Dallas, Atlanta and Toronto offices will relocate to its primary offices in Bentonville, Arkansas; Hoboken, New Jersey; and the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Tariff Proponents Say U.S. Needs Trade Fairness, but Critics Warn Costs of American Goods Will Rise

Construction site

President Joe Biden held a press conference Tuesday extolling the tariffs on Chinese products — including steel, aluminum, electric vehicles, solar panels and semiconductors — he is rolling out. The president argued that China aggressively subsidizes the products America imports, which makes it difficult for U.S. businesses to compete.

“Back in 2000, when cheap steel from China began to flood the market, U.S. steel towns across Pennsylvania and Ohio were hit hard,” Biden said.

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Inflation Stays High as Rising Prices Continue to Squeeze Americans

Grocery Shopping

Inflation ticked down slightly year-over-year in April but still remained high as rising prices continue to take a toll on average Americans’ finances, according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) release on Tuesday.

The consumer price index (CPI), a broad measure of the prices of everyday goods, increased 3.4% on an annual basis in April and 0.3% month-over-month, compared to 3.5% in March, according to the BLS. Core CPI, which excludes the volatile categories of energy and food, remained higher, rising 3.6% year-over-year in April, compared to 3.8% in February.

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Producer Inflation Makes Biggest Jump in a Year in Potential Warning Sign for Future Economy

Factory worker

A measure of wholesale inflation that tracks prices before they reach consumers surged to its fastest annual rate since April 2023, according to new data released Tuesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The producer price index (PPI) rose 0.5 percent in April, totaling a 2.2 percent annual rate, far higher than estimates that the index would rise 0.3 percent in the month, according to the BLS. The report adds to fears that inflation is once again surging following the consumer price index jumping to 3.5 percent in March, up from 3.2 percent in February and far from the Federal Reserve’s 2 percent target.

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Over Half of Illegal Aliens in U.S. are Unemployed: Report

Illegal aliens

A new report reveals that over half of the population of illegal aliens that have come into the United States under Joe Biden’s watch are unemployed, thus creating an even greater strain on the country.

As reported by Breitbart, the report from the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) released on Monday revealed that only 46 percent of illegals who came to the U.S. “in 2022 or later” were employed at the start of 2024.

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Renewables Provided 30 Percent of Energy in 2023, but Data Disputes Claims of an Overall Energy Transition

Solar Panels

A new report from Ember-climate.org, which describes itself as “an independent energy think tank that aims to accelerate the clean energy transition with data and policy” touting that renewable energy provided 30% of electricity generation in 2023 is getting a lot of attention, with reports in The Guardian, Associated Press, and Reuters, and CNN.

“A permanent decline in fossil fuel use in the power sector at a global level is now inevitable,” the report by Ember declares.

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Report Finds Farmers Growing More Concerned About Economy

Work Farmer

U.S. farmers’ confidence in the economy cratered in April, according to the latest monthly report from Purdue University.

The Purdue University-CME Group Ag Economy Barometer for last month, which was released Tuesday, fell 15 points from March. At 99, the current score is the lowest the barometer has dropped since it reached 97 in June 2022.

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The 2024 Sunset of the Trump Tax Cuts Becoming Election Year Issue as Inflation, Cost of Living Climbs

Donald Trump

The sweeping Trump-era tax cuts in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 are set to expire next year, setting up the tax debate as a potentially key political issue this election year.

While illegal immigration and inflation top Americans’ list of concerns, both parties are increasingly talking about the Trump-era tax cuts, which President Joe Biden has said he will allow to expire next year.

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Student Loan Rates to Reach 16-Year High

College Graduation

As borrowing costs for student loans are already at unseen levels, rates are expected to rise even higher in the coming months to a high not seen in 16 years.

According to ABC News, the current interest rate on a federal undergraduate student loan, which is 5.5%, is expected to rise to 6.5% in July. This would mark the highest level since 2008. The borrowing rate for student loans is determined as a result of adding a fixed amount of 2.05% to the yield on the 10-year Treasury bond, which is set every May at an annual auction. On Wednesday, the 2024 auction saw 10-year Treasury bonds sold at a yield of 4.48%.

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Elevated Gas Prices Poised to Rise More This Summer

Pumping Gas

Gas prices have been elevated in recent months heading into summer, when prices are expected to rise even more.

According to AAA, the average national price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $3.65 per gallon, up from $3.59 a month ago. The prices have fluctuated in recent days and are lower than the all-time high of $5.02 in the summer of 2022. However, prices overall have risen significantly this year and are on pace to rise more in the summer months.

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Analysis: Biden’s EV Mandates Would Hinder the Commercial Trucking Industry

Truck on Road

Converting America’s medium- and heavy-duty trucks to electric vehicles (EV) in accordance with goals from the Biden administration would add massive costs to commercial trucking, according to a new analysis released Wednesday.

The cost to switch over to light-duty EVs like a transit van would equate to a 5% increase in costs per year while switching over medium- and heavy-duty trucks would add up to 114% in costs per year to already struggling businesses, according to a report from transportation and logistics company Ryder Systems. The Biden administration, in an effort to facilitate a transition to EVs, finalized new emission standards in March that would require a huge number of heavy-duty vehicles to be electric or zero-emission by 2032 and has created a plan to roll out charging infrastructure across the country.

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Commentary: China’s Land Grab

Farmland

At both the federal and state levels, elected leaders are paying more attention to national security threats stemming from Chinese-owned real estate in the United States.

The totality of Chinese-owned real estate in the United States remains unknown and, under current law, is unknowable. For agricultural land, Chinese-owned acreage reportedly only constitutes a small share of the United States’ total, but has increased rapidly in recent years, suggesting a growing threat that would best be managed now before it turns into a significant problem.

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Report: Florida Received 58 Cents for Every Dollar Spent on Tourism Marketing

Florida Tourism

State officials say Florida’s tourism marketing organization, Visit Florida, returned only 58 cents for every dollar spent on it in 2023.

The report by the Office of Economic and Demographic Research found that Visit Florida’s public marketing during fiscal years 2019-22 generated a positive 0.58 return on investment.

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Bidenomics Tips More Stressed U.S. Banks Into Danger Zone as Economy Slows

Fulton Chairman and CEO Curt Myers

With inflation, high-interest rates and slowing economic growth already stressing Americans heading into the 2024 election, another reason to worry about the Biden economy has cropped up: distressed banks in danger of failing.

Last month U.S. regulators seized a bank known as Republic First Bancorp and agreed to sell it to Fulton Bank.

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Reports: 2023 Was a Record Year for Natural Gas Consumption

Natural Gas Plant

2023 was a record year for domestic natural gas consumption, and its supply wouldn’t have been possible without record U.S. production, led by Texas, according to several reports.

Texas produced the equivalent of one-third of the natural gas consumed last year, with Texas producers breaking multiple records last year, The Center Square reported.

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Americans Less Confident About Economy, Poll Shows

Stressed Workers

Americans are less confident about the economy, according to a new survey.

Gallup’s recently released economic confidence rating dropped from March to April as inflation remains elevated. Just after the polling was conducted from April 1-22, the federal government released underperforming Gross Domestic Product data.

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Americans Increasingly Turning to Discount Grocer Amidst Rising Prices

Grocery Shopping

A German discount grocer has seen an increase in business from American customers over the last year, as inflation remains stubbornly high and presents an ongoing threat to Americans’ financial security.

The Daily Caller reports that Aldi, the German-based grocer, saw a staggering 26% increase in foot traffic at its store in March compared to March of 2023. This rise far surpassed increases at other popular grocery store chains, including the 6% year-over-year increase at Kroger and the 15% increase at Trader Joe’s.

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Latest Productivity Data Spells More Trouble for Future of American Economy

Staff Meeting

U.S. productivity growth slowed in the first quarter of 2024, casting doubt on the American economy’s future growth, according to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on Thursday.

Growth in U.S. business productivity slowed to just 0.3% in the first quarter of 2024, below economists’ predictions of 0.5% and far lower than the 3.5% rate of growth achieved in the fourth quarter of 2023, according to the BLS. Sluggish growth in productivity bodes poorly for broader gross domestic product (GDP) growth, which slowed to 1.6% in the first quarter of 2024.

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Commentary: Free Markets are Necessary But Not Sufficient

Family Prayer at Dinner

For most of our lifetimes, classically liberal economics so dominated the Right that nobody wondered if conservatives were abandoning free markets. In recent years, though, a new generation of conservative thinkers—more traditionalist, populist, or nationalist than libertarian—has challenged the utility and even the morality of laissez faire economic policy.

We welcome their questions and critiques, as they have compelled American conservatives to have a long overdue conversation about the market, the family, and the state. But the blunt truth is the movement cannot abandon free markets. The moral and practical case for free enterprise is as necessary today as it was when Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher used it to rescue their nations’ economies and win the Cold War.

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Majority of Small Businesses Say Colleges are Failing to Prepare Gen Z for the Workplace, Survey Shows

A recent survey conducted by RedBalloon and PublicSquare found that a majority of small businesses believe colleges are failing to prepare Gen Z for the workforce and that nearly half of small businesses said that a college degree has zero value in their hiring decisions.

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Gains in Government Jobs Couldn’t Save Biden’s Economy in April

Business Meeting

Growth in government jobs slowed in April, bucking the pattern that has contributed to above-trend job growth over the past several months, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Employment in government grew just 8,000 in April, lower than the average over the past year of 55,000 per month, according to data from the BLS. A slowdown in government hiring led total job growth in April to be largely anemic compared to recent months, with the U.S. adding only 175,000 nonfarm payroll positions in the month, lower than the average over the past year of 242,000.

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Commentary: Jobs Report Shows the Specter of Stagflation Has Returned

Meeting

The specter of stagflation has returned. The monthly jobs report released Friday showed only 175,000 jobs were created last month, well below the recent average and expectations.

More than half of new jobs were created in the unproductive government and quasi-government healthcare and social services sectors that don’t generate growth. Average wages grew at a slower rate than inflation, meaning Americans’ real wages and living standards are declining.

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Companies are Slashing Away at Debt as Surging Inflation Casts Shadow over Interest Rate Cuts

Business meeting

Many companies are looking to cut down on their debts as recent high inflation reports have made borrowing more expensive as the prospect of interest rate cuts by central banks diminishes, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

Even companies with already high credit outlooks are deleveraging to boost their rating with top agencies and reduce debt costs that have increased along with interest rates, while firms with lower ratings are needing to cut debt to maintain profitable operations, according to the WSJ. Investors have had to adjust their view about when interest rates might decline in recent weeks as persistently high levels of inflation have made it less likely that central banks around the world, including in the U.S., will cut interest rates, reducing the cost of holding debt.

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‘Economic Suicide’: Biden Admin Justifies Tax Hike Based on Racial Criteria

President Joe Biden

The Biden administration’s analysis of its revenue proposals for fiscal year 2025 argues targeted tax hikes that disproportionately affect white people would ease racial wealth inequality.

Increasing taxes on capital gains and income-based wealth would reduce racial wealth inequality for black and Hispanic families, the Treasury Department outlined in the analysis published in mid-March. The Treasury points out that white families disproportionately hold assets subject to capital gains tax or are in a higher tax bracket, meaning a hike in those taxes would benefit black and Hispanic families.

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Congress’ Inaction on Debt ‘Irresponsible’ Says Former Comptroller

David Walker

The former U.S. Comptroller General said Congress’ failure to address the federal debt burden was “irresponsible.”

David Walker, former Comptroller General of the United States and a member of the Main Street Economics Advisory Board, said recent economic data should prompt lawmakers to take action before the debt problem gets worse. 

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More Than 100 Colleges Cave Closed or Merged Over Last Eight Years

University of Saint Katherine

The University of Saint Katherine, a small nonprofit in North San Diego County, recently announced it will close May 18, citing “financial pressure due to unprecedented inflation and rising state-mandated labor costs.”

It’s not alone. Nationwide, universities face financial hardships that appear to be getting worse. More than 100 colleges and universities have closed or merged, or announced plans to, over the last eight years, according to a tracker updated this month by Higher Ed Dive.

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Airlines Launch Effort Backing Green Jet Fuel Tax Credit that Could Raise Food Prices for Americans

Plane at gate

A coalition of major airlines has formed a group supporting a tax credit pushed by President Joe Biden that experts say could jack up food prices.

More than 40 companies, including Boeing, American Airlines, JetBlue and United as well as ethanol trade groups, are pushing the federal government to “expand” existing tax credits for “sustainable aviation fuel” (SAF) and to pass legislation to increase the fuel’s availability, Axios reported. Corn-based ethanol is a common component in SAF and experts previously told the Daily Caller News Foundation that increasing the demand for corn by incentivizing its use in jet fuel could indirectly raise food costs for Americans.

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Elevated Inflation, Poor GDP Growth Raise Concerns

Grocery store prices

Federal data released Friday showed that inflation remains elevated. The figures came out on the heels of other data showing the U.S. Gross Domestic Product underperformed in the first quarter of this year.

Both the inflation and GDP data points raised concerns among economists and renewed criticism of President Joe Biden among Republicans.

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Mounting Evidence Is Pointing to a Nightmare Scenario for the U.S. Economy

Evicted

U.S. annual economic growth measured just 1.6 percent in the first quarter of 2024, following a report of persistently high inflation in March of 3.5 percent year-over-year. The combination of both low growth and high inflation, in conjunction with continuously high amounts of government spending and debt, has led to signs of stagflation in the U.S. economy, which wreaked havoc on U.S. consumers throughout the 1970’s, according to experts who spoke to the DCNF.

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Americans Consumed Record Amounts of Natural Gas in 2023

Natural Gas

The latest figures from the U.S. Energy Information Administration show that Americans are consuming a record amount of natural gas.

In 2023, the U.S. consumed 89.1 billion cubic feet of gas in 2023, which was a record, according to the EIA. Since 2018, American consumption of natural gas increased by an average of 4% annually.

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Economist Uses Big Mac Price Index to Analyze Inflation, Impact of Food Costs

Big Mac Burger

In addition to measuring foreign exchange rates, an economist is using the price of a hamburger to examine inflation.

The Economist magazine developed the Big Mac index in 1986 as an informal way to determine the “purchasing power parity” of different countries and currencies. B. Ravikumar, senior vice president and deputy director of research at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, recently used the Big Mac index to analyze the U.S. consumer price index, which is widely used as the authoritative inflation measurement.

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Top Automaker Takes $1.3 Billion Bath on Key EV Line

Ford Headquarters

Top American automaker Ford hemorrhaged over a billion dollars on electric vehicles (EV) in the first quarter, leading to massive losses per vehicle.

Ford sold 10,000 vehicles in its EV Model e unit in the first three months of the year, losing $1.3 billion on the line altogether, equating to a loss of $130,000 per vehicle sold, according to data from the company’s first quarter earnings report. Despite the loss on EVs, Ford’s net income was $1.3 billion, selling over a million vehicles with $42.8 billion in revenue in the quarter.

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Tesla Reports One of Its Worst Quarters in Years in Latest Sign of Trouble for EV Market

Tesla Factory

Tesla disclosed a shaky earnings report to the public on Tuesday in the latest sign of weakness in the U.S. electric vehicle (EV) market.

The EV maker’s revenue for the first quarter of this year came in nearly 10 percent below its revenue for the first quarter of 2023, marking the largest decline the company has seen since 2012, according to its quarterly report and CNBC. Tesla’s net income also fell by about 55 percent relative to 2023, and the company warned investors that “volume growth rate may be notably lower than the growth rate achieved in 2023.”

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Ukrainian Aid Costs Each American Household Almost $1,500, Economists Say

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy with United States President Joe Biden

Even as Americans grow increasingly pessimistic and agitated about their personal finances, Congress is about to ask struggling families to cover the cost of more funding for Ukraine.

The $95 billion foreign aid package adopted Saturday by the House and facing near-certain passage in the Senate includes an additional $61 billion for Ukraine. Once added to the money already appropriated for Ukraine since 2022, the United States will have spent approximately $173 billion.

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International Money Fund Warns on U.S. Debt ‘Something Will Have to Give’

Congress Spending

The International Monetary Fund warned the United States that government spending and increasing national debt are not sustainable and could hurt the global economy.

The Washington, D.C.-based group that represents 190 member countries also called the U.S. economy “overheated.” The debt warning follows several other high-profile calls to address growing U.S. debt.

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Home Sales Drop in March as Mortgage Rates Surge over 7 Percent

Sale Pending Home

Existing home sales shrank in March as consumers respond to continuing price increases and rising mortgage rates.

Sales for existing homes fell 4.3% in March compared to the previous month and 3.7% year-over-year, to an annual rate of 4.19 million, according to a press release from the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The average for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage reached 7.10% this week, a substantial jump from 6.88% last week, depressing Americans’ desire to switch homes and possibly acquire a higher interest rate, according to a release from real estate giant Freddie Mac.

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Report: Biden has Taken over 200 Actions Against U.S. Oil

Oil Drilling

President Joe Biden and his administration have taken over 200 actions against the U.S. oil and natural gas industry as energy prices have gone up, according to a new report. 

“President Biden and Democrats have a plan for American energy: make it harder to produce and more expensive to purchase,” the Institute for Energy Research states in a new report. “Since Mr. Biden took office, his administration and its allies have taken over 200 actions deliberately designed to make it harder to produce energy here in America.”

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U.S. Potentially Facing New Era of High Interest Rates

Fed Chair Jerome Powell

The United States could be facing an era of prolonged high interest rates unlike anything seen in recent memory.

According to Axios, a number of major factors indicate that high interest rates could be the new norm in the U.S., including the movement of rates, the rate of inflation, and the recent outlook for the Federal Reserve’s policy in addressing these issues.

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Electric Vehicle Maker Launches Another Round of Layoffs as Demand Slows

Rivian factory

Electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer Rivian announced its second round of layoffs just this year on Wednesday as consumer demand for EVs stalls.

The layoffs at Rivian will affect around 1 percent of the company’s staff as they continue to look for ways to cut costs to bolster struggling profits due to less-than-expected EV sales, the company confirmed to the Daily Caller News Foundation. Rivian announced in February that it was laying off 10 percent of its workforce after it released its 2024 production forecast, which was well below analyst expectations, according to Reuters.

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U.S. Wheat Farmers Stare Down Huge Losses as Foreign Goods Flood Market

Wheat combine

Many American wheat farmers may face losses in 2024 due to a glut of foreign supply coupled with soaring equipment and labor costs amid high inflation, Reuters reported Wednesday.

Wheat prices are near their lowest point in nearly four years as supply from the Black Sea and Europe has unexpectedly flooded the market after three years of droughts draining reserves, hitting winter wheat farmers in the Great Plains particularly hard, according to Reuters. Costs for transporting and producing American wheat have soared compared to foreign wheat suppliers, with high inflation increasing costs for farm equipment, repairs and labor for farmers.

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Commentary: Inflation Will Stick Around as Long as The Big Spenders Do

President Joe Biden signing a bill

August came early to the nation’s capital with last week’s round of March inflation data. The late summer weather in Washington, D.C., is notoriously hot and sticky, two accurate descriptors of the latest price increases facing families and businesses alike. Inflation is stubbornly high, and the Biden administration’s spendthrift public policies are to blame.

In the past 12 months, consumer prices rose 3.5 percent, the second month of accelerating annual inflation. In March alone, prices rose 0.4 percent. That may not sound like much, but it’s actually terrible. If that monthly inflation rate holds steady, prices will double in less than 16 years.

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