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BIG Y raising wages to combat inflation as economy trends down

The Consumer Price Index for May increased 8.6% from last year.

MANCHESTER, Conn. — Inflation fears are worsening across the country. Some experts have said a recession is inevitable.

On Friday we learned that the Consumer Price Index, a key economic indicator, rose 8.6% for the month of May. It means inflation is showing no signs of slowing down. In fact, it’s accelerating. 

RELATED: 'It has affected our bottom line' | High gas prices, inflation hitting local food truck businesses

“Everything is more expensive,” said Lisa Marshall of Glastonbury.

It's deflating people’s wallets. 

“Between food and gas it is something that you have to learn how to deal with,” added Debbie Coulombe of Tolland.

But rather than deal with it, Big Y is bucking the trend. They are offering wage increases to 3/4ths of their workforce at a time when business operating costs are up. 

“We're a family,” said Sam Chevalier, store director of the Big Y in Manchester. “We want to take care of them because they take care of us. They’ve been essential workers for the last two years during some of the worst times that anyone can remember.”

But while wages are up, so are prices. Shoppers told us they control what they can. 

“You have to eat, you have to put gas in your car. You just don’t do other things like go to the movies or go out to eat,” said Marshall.

Hesitant to raise their prices, a lot of companies are instead getting creative with their packaging. Gatorade bottles, for example, used to have flat sides. Now they are tapered inward. You are still paying the same but for less product. 

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“If some manufacturer has lowered the ounces and raised the price, consumers figure that out fairly quickly and they will make their choices based on the money they have to spend. We’re seeing bulk purchases are up. People are buying in bulk,” explained Wayne Pesce, the President of the Connecticut Food Association.

With inflation at a 40-year high, the breakdown is staggering. Gas is up 49% in the last year, electricity is up 12%, rent is up 5.2%, airfare is  up12.6%, hotels up 22.2%, and groceries up 11.9%.

Credit: FOX61

FOX61 sat down with one of President Biden’s economic advisors who claimed the majority of inflation is Russia’s fault. 

“The biggest single driver of inflation. The 1% increase over the month of May came from Putin’s war against Ukraine,” said Jared Bernstein, of President Biden’s Council of Economic Advisors.

RELATED: Locals react to gas prices hitting a record high

What he would say to Connecticut families, whose paychecks haven’t seen a 9% bump, “I would say that is precisely why President Biden has made fighting inflation his top economic priority.”

Bernstein said three things need to happen to bring inflation under control. The federal reserve needs to hike interest rates, Congress needs to pass legislation giving families relief and the budget deficit needs to get paid down. Bernstein says no one can accurately predict when inflation will peak.

Matt Caron is a reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at mcaron@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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