This is the worst inflation in rural areas since exploding cows.
The government’s official inflation number is calculated using prices in 75 urban areas nationwide. Rural areas are entirely omitted.
Yet rural inflation is often higher than urban inflation, which likely lowballs the “official” inflation number. That was the determination of the CBO (Congressional Budget Office), after Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO8) — at the time the top Republican on the House Budget Committee — asked them to run the numbers for both urban and rural areas in January 2022.
A few months after that, in June 2022, inflation peaked at 9.1%, its highest level since 1981. Although inflation has declined every month since that midsummer apex, it still stood at 6.0% in February, triple the Federal Reserve’s goal of around 2%.
What the bill does
The Combating Rural Inflation Act would require the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics), the government agency that determines “official” inflation numbers, to also calculate rural inflation.
It was introduced in the House on March 3, as H.R. 1358, by Rep. Marcus Molinaro (R-NY19).
What supporters say
Supporters argue that one of the most-followed and most important data points determined by the federal government is currently missing some crucial information.
“We know the cost of living is still on the rise. But for rural communities, it could be even worse,” Rep. Molinaro said in a press release. “Many rural communities aren’t included in existing Consumer Price Index (CPI) data, the leading national inflation measurement used to calculate cost-of-living adjustments and eligibility for assistance programs.”
“Rural New Yorkers should never be the afterthought,” Rep. Molinaro continued. “My bill creates a rural inflation metric so cost-of-living increases in rural communities are thoroughly accounted for and considered.”
What opponents say
GovTrack Insider was unable to locate any explicit statements of opposition. After all, defenders of the current urban-only approach to calculating inflation statistics wouldn’t see a change, since this would only add another metric rather than alter the main existing one.
Inflation is calculated by sending people out across the country on a monthly basis to check the prices of goods. Since this bill doesn’t appear to allocate increased funding for the Bureau of Labor Statistics, opponents may also cite a potential cost and staffing issue.
Odds of passage
It awaits a potential vote in the House Education and the Workforce Committee.