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Jacksonville to feel pinch of rising prices

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Updated: 7/22/2013 11:52 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Every week, Shaunte Houston shops around for the best deals.

"We have to budget with everything going up higher."

Her weekly grocery bill to feed her family of four isn't the only thing rising.

The U.S. Department of Labor says prices are increasing almost across the board, including food, clothing and gas. In Jacksonville, it costs 11 cents more per gallon of regular than this time last month.

"It used to be like $40 to fill up my tank and now it's $50," said Bernadette Alstin.

Like many, Alstin is buying only what she needs and cutting way back.

"You really can't save like you used to or put something away for a rainy day because as soon as you do, you have to go back to the bank to take it out."

So it's hard for Alstin and Houston to believe that rising prices could be a good thing.

Dr. Roman Cech, professor of economics at Florida State College at Jacksonville says consumers shouldn't worry.

The Consumer Price Index rose 0.5 percent nationally from May to June, but core inflation, which totals everything except volatile industries like food and gas rose only 0.2 percent in that same period.

"The market fluctuates so while it looks scary to see a jump, everything else stayed steady which shows stability."

The biggest jump is in the local housing market. Cech says home prices fell hard in recent years, partly because this is the financial capital of the state. Now prices are rising fast to catch up with other markets.

"It feels like a quick jump after years of horrible nothingness."

While local homes prices will likely continue to rise, Cech believes the hike on food and gas is only temporary, and says inflation overall is not necessarily bad news.

"Nobody likes inflation, but everybody likes a good raise."

Cech says rising prices on items like cars and clothing could eventually persuade business owners to hire more staff, or give their current employees raises.

"Who benefits most from this weird effect? People who are deepest in debt. Those with mortgages or car payments who will benefit from extra income."

While no one knows how soon that could happen, Cech says the signs of an improving local market are finally here.

Until then Houston will keep saving any way she can.

"I'm just going to try to go back to school to make more money that's all anybody can do."

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