Inflation has been on the rise for a while, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Prices are going up on everything from food and fuel to housing and technology, and it sounds like it will only get worse before it gets better.
The price increases caused by inflation affect us all in some measure, but have a much more significant impact on the low-income families in our communities. And families who rely on schools for access to the internet and other vital technology will feel the crunch even more this summer.
Let’s take a look at what inflation is, how it disproportionately affects low-income families, and how refurbished electronics from Repowered can help get technology into the hands of more of our community members who need it.
What Is Inflation?
Inflation is defined by Investopedia as the “decline of purchasing power of a given currency over time.”
As a currency becomes less valuable, the prices of goods and services rise as well, so the currency buys less than it used to. In other words, as inflation increases, purchasing power decreases.
This loss of purchasing power affects the cost of living for everyone. However, low-income families experience much more severe consequences from this shift.
Inflation Disproportionately Affects Low-Income Families
Inflation tends to widen inequalities—those on fixed incomes or living paycheck-to-paycheck are more likely to suffer its effects than those with bigger salaries.
For many of us, finding ways to manage inflation means making small changes to our everyday lives. We tighten our budgets, hold off on bigger purchases, and have something to complain about around the water cooler.
But for low-income families, it can have a much more devastating impact.
Many low-income households are already working with stretched budgets and no financial cushion. Nearly all of their income goes to necessities like food, energy, and housing.
As those costs rise, there is no room for higher prices in their already tight budgets, and they are forced to make difficult decisions.
The loss of purchasing power hits them harder than it does wealthier families—even the smallest change in disposable income can be difficult to manage. Those with more money will continue to be able to eat, pay their mortgages, and fill up their cars as inflation worsens. But lower-income families will struggle to meet those basic needs.
Take the cost of food, for example.
In 2020, the lowest income families spent around 27 percent of their income on food, compared to the highest income families who spent only 7 percent of their income on food, according to the USDA. As you can imagine, rising food prices are hitting low-income families—who already devote a huge percentage of their budgets to food—much harder than higher-income families.
As prices rise, wealthier families can switch to lower-cost items or shop around for sales. But for families who are already clipping coupons and shopping at discount stores, there are no cheaper options to turn to. They end up functioning in survival mode.
Tech Needs Spike In the Summer
As inflation speeds ahead this summer and fall, technology needs will also increase for many kids and families who rely on access to computers and internet at school. When schools close for the summer, these families lose access to the technology that helps them learn and stay connected.
Lack of equitable access to technology is an ongoing issue that has been amplified by the pandemic (due to distance learning and remote work), and will only be additionally exacerbated by inflation.
This digital divide affects many low-income families. For instance, Pew Research Center found that 35% of students from households with an annual income of less than $30,000 didn’t have internet access at home (compared with only 6% of households making $75,000 or more).
Kids and adults alike who lack access to technology miss out on learning and employment opportunities and struggle to keep up with their better-connected peers.
Equitable access to technology can bridge these socioeconomic gaps, giving people the tools they need to be successful in our digital world.
Shop Affordable Refurbished Technology at Repowered
Repowered helps address the digital divide by offering reliable, low-cost refurbished technology. Refurbished computers, printers, and other devices are not only better for the environment, they help make technology accessible to more people who need it.
If you find it difficult to get the devices you need at an affordable price as inflation speeds ahead, Repowered has you covered. Shop our online store here or visit one of our retail locations to browse our current inventory.