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Anyone who has been grocery shopping in the last few months has probably noticed that things suddenly seem more expensive. And they aren’t wrong.

Last week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the overall year-over-year inflation rate in October was 6.2%, a notably high rate.

The price increases on the everyday goods families need to get by are worrisome to many, particularly those already living paycheck to paycheck.

As a policy analyst who is also a parent seeing higher grocery bills and gas prices, I have been looking into the cause of recent inflation — here is what I’ve found.

Experts believe the current inflation we’re seeing will be temporary and that it is largely related to COVID-19’s disruptions to the economy. However, thanks in large part to the American Rescue Plan, over the past year the economy has also added 5.8 million jobs and significantly increased wage and income growth.

Despite inflation, households in West Virginia are largely better off than they were a year ago. The unemployment rate, while still high when accounting for missing workers, has fallen, and far fewer households are reporting difficulty meeting their household expenses, paying rent and getting enough to eat.

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Put simply, a large federal investment helped our communities despite the hardships brought by COVID-19.

I recognize the knowledge that the current inflation we are seeing is temporary is likely a cold comfort to families struggling to buy groceries this week. But beyond the current added pressure of inflation, there are many chronic issues creating enormous stress on West Virginia families — including underinvestment in children, insufficient support for working parents and inadequate policies to mitigate the impacts of climate change, all of which are addressed by the Build Back Better agenda.

The American Rescue Plan has shown us how federal investments can ease economic hardship for West Virginians during uncertain times. Now, we have the chance to make the long-term investments in the economy needed to address our chronic issues. And while inflation is a concern for West Virginia families, Build Back Better is largely paid for and financed by tax increases on the wealthy, which would blunt inflationary impact.

In fact, the investments in the Build Back Better agenda are actually expected to boost the productive capacity of the U.S. economy and ease inflationary pressure in the future.

Further, investments in clean energy and curtailing fossil fuel use will reduce the economy’s and households’ vulnerability to energy price spikes. The Build Back Better agenda eases the burdens families and workers are currently facing by investing in children, families and health.

Lawmakers must not overreact to the supply chain and COVID-related sources of inflation by scaling back the critical and necessary investments presented in the Build Back Better agenda. These provisions are what the Mountain State needs to become more resilient and grow and prosper in the future.

Sean O’Leary is senior policy analyst for the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy.

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