Inflation highest in Tampa Bay area, nationwide analysis shows

The Tampa Bay area saw the highest inflation rate increase in the country last month, according to data recently released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The agency releases monthly statistics on the inflation rates of nearly two dozen major metro areas and in November, Tampa Bay posted an 8 percent increase, which outpaced all markets, including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

Experts believe there are several factors contributing to the spike, including more people moving to the area, low interest rates and supply chain shortages.

"It's an inflation issue which can't be dealt with easily by traditional tools such as the Federal Reserve System tightening up or the President of the United States reducing government spending," said G. Hartley Mellish, an economist who has taught at USF and is currently a private consultant, adding neither of those options seems likely.

The rising inflation rate has contributed to the rising cost of gas, groceries and gifts for the holidays.

Mellish said the local impact can be seen most in two industries: car sales and real estate.

"People who want a car right away have to pay a premium," he said. "We have a limited supply of housing, and we have 100 new people coming to the Tampa Bay Area every day."

Mellish believes the higher costs are likely here to stay, at least for now.

"There is a softening in the housing market, which is taking place right now, and hopefully it'll continue," said Mellish. "And any kind of supply chain shortages in groceries that encourages producers to produce more, and so eventually it'll work itself out."

Economists caution the public to be careful about comparing markets, as goods are priced differently in places like New York and L.A. compared to Tampa Bay.