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    Thursday, December 07, 2023

    As spending revs up in Conn., some costs in the Northeast rise as well

    With less than a week until Black Friday, Connecticut residents are gearing up for a period of high spending — but in certain sectors, prices are still going up.

    Shelter costs, such as rent or the homeowner equivalent, have gone up 6% in Northeastern states since last year, while food and beverage prices rose 3%, according to consumer price index data by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The consumer price index measures how the price of certain goods increased since a base year. And while prices also went up for apparel and motor fuel, medical care and natural gas prices saw decreases.

    And despite these price increases, spending this fall so far is the strongest it’s been in the past three years.

    An analysis of credit and debit card data by Harvard-based research organization Opportunity Insights shows that in March 2020, when the pandemic was declared in the U.S., spending since January of that year dropped by almost 40%. Since then, spending has slowly risen, going back to those January 2020 levels near the end of 2020. And between November of last year and earlier this month, the percent change in spending since January 2020 has remained above 19%. On Nov. 5 this year, spending was up 29% from early 2020.

    But it’s yet to be seen whether this increased spending will turn into accumulated credit card debt.

    Last year, the most recent year for which there is information available from the New York Federal Reserve of New York’s review of Equifax data, the average Connecticut resident had about $4,040 in credit card debt, barely above nearby states such as New York, where credit card debt per capita was $3,970, and Rhode Island at $3,540. These levels of debt match levels seen at the end of 2018 and just shy of levels in 2008.

    Both Affinity Solutions and Equifax data do not fully capture every U.S. consumer. Affinity captured 10% of all credit and debit card spending and is made nationally representative by comparing against other surveys. Equifax data covered 5% of all adults in the country with a credit report.


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