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Gas Prices are increasing and according to data from AAA, the national average for a gallon of gas is now $4.009—the highest since the 2008 financial crisis. Coincidentally, the following year would be the last time our national federal minimum wage was increased on July 24, 2009, when it rose from $6.55 to $7.25 per hour.
In a country of enormous wealth, somehow citizens can still work for an hour to only afford a gallon and half of gasoline (before taxes).
In a February CBS News/You Gov poll, it was discovered that most Black Americans disapprove of Mr. Biden’s handling of inflation and most do not think he’s focused enough on inflation.
“Sadly, though, income inequality and rising inflation can entrap lower-income households in poverty,” according to Adewale Maye, a policy analyst on race, ethnicity and the economy for the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP).
“In addition, research has shown that prices may rise more quickly for those who have lower-incomes, a phenomenon called inflation inequality,” added Maye.
Gas prices are high but for how long?
This week, U.S. gas prices soared to their highest peak in history. The average price per gallon increased 57 cents in a week. And President Joe Biden’s decision to ban oil imports from Russia because of Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine likely will cause prices to spike even further.
Even before the latest rise in gas prices, American inflation was at a 40-year high, with prices rising nearly 7.5% in the past year, according to USA Today.
Americans choose between gas and food.
A Bank of America report last fall found that inflation hurts a few groups the most: Black and Latino communities, rural households, and households without a college degree.
While a nationwide company like Target recently increased its hourly pay between $15 – $24 for store employees, there is no such widespread or federally mandated economic advancement for low-skilled workers which Blacks and other non-white groups regularly occupy.
For many African Americans in the working class, $7.25 remains the minimum starvation wage. With such low wages, any slight price uptick is magnified and felt deeply in the already shallow pockets of America’s blue-collar workforce. Though these gas prices are historically high, the pain at the pump affects Black Americans adversely.
The Biden-Harris Administration has issued an Executive Order on Protecting the Federal Workforce, which directs the Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to provide a report to the President with recommendations to promote a $15 per hour minimum wage for federal employees. But that does not cover the vast majority of non-governmental workers in the U.S. still struggling to make ends meet.
An additional Executive Order to increase the minimum wage and eliminate the sub-minimum wage for federal contractors will surely benefit those workers. However, if Biden and the Democratic Party can’t deliver his $15 an hour campaign promise for all Americans, it will continue to be Blacks who suffer.