New survey: Nearly half of Floridians struggle to afford necessities due to inflation

A new survey from the University of South Florida found nearly half of Floridians have a hard time paying the bills to afford the necessities due to inflation.

According to the federal government, the nation’s inflation is at a 40-year-high. It’s impacting rent, mortgages, and groceries and more. USF researchers recently surveyed 600 Floridians across the state., varying across race, ethnicity, gender and political party for their opinions on inflation, the housing and more.

"Forty-eight percent of our respondents agreed that inflation was impacting their ability to pay essential bills," said Christina Stevens, the associate director of development at USF Libraries and an MPA candidate at the university. "So 80 percent of our respondents said that their discretionary spending is being impacted, and 65 percent of our respondents said that their travel plans are being impacted as well."

A majority of Floridians surveyed blame the COVID-19 pandemic, higher federal spending and supply chain issues. The supply chain disrupted everything from store shelves to construction timelines.

"Well the uncertainty’s there. Our plumbers, our air conditioning people, our subcontractors, they can’t tell us what their costs are," said Chuck Fowke, a Tampa Bay home builder and president of the National Association of Home Builders. "If someone’s asking you to give them a price for a house today, it’s very difficult to do that because our subcontractors, our suppliers can’t guarantee us prices for the time in the foreseeable future."

Inflation impacts Floridians in the housing market too. Fowke said he’s sounded the alarm to the federal government. 

"The inflation, we’ve been ringing the fire alarm for well over a year now with the housing industry. I testified back in October before Congress regarding supply chain issues. So the unpredictability of labor and costs of labor, availability of materials, it just keeps ratcheting up the pricing.," said Fowke.

Inflation shows no signs of slowing down, and the survey shows how far its reaching.

"We hope that people can kind of look at these results and policymakers might be able to use some of this data to make decisions that will hopefully help some of the people in our state who are experiencing financial hardship," said Stevens.

Data from NAHB shows fewer Americans want to buy a home, the desire dropping for the third time within a year. It also found that first time home buyers are giving up, matching responses from Floridians polled in USF’s survey.

"I think it just further solidifies how crazy the housing market is. I think that Tampa is a great place to work, live and play. But, you know, hopefully the housing prices might be able to decrease a little bit just to give more people an opportunity to move here and live here," said Stevens.

The NAHB said builders are also dealing with lumber shortages and rising labor costs, which all trinkles down to homebuyers.

"So we continue to deal with lumber tariffs. We’re pleading with the administration to reduce tariffs or eliminate tariffs for the time being until we can get housing affordability back in line," said Fowke.

Just 12 percent of people from USF’s survey said they would sell their house. Stevens said that’s likely because they may not be able to afford to buy anywhere else in the current market. Home builders said there just aren’t enough homes being built right now, and they are trying to catch up. Until the inventory levels out, Fowke said homebuyers will continue to face some challenges.