Rising inflation hits AC students

COVID creates emotional and financial impact during holiday season


Student Reporter

Illustrations by SHAWN McCrea | The Ranger

Inflation is impacting every sector of business, and Amarillo College students are feeling it, both financially and emotionally. Prices on everything from food to computer chips have risen dramatically in the past year, and most agree COVID is to blame.

Susan Burks, a professor in accounting and business administration at AC, said, “Inflation is a byproduct of COVID and many other things, and is relative to each individual’s spending patterns. All inflation is not bad. Ultimately it is related to supply and demand.” Burks also said that inflation is a complex problem with no easy answers. “There is a domino effect on us, as consumers, when materials are not available for items, such as cars and the computer chips that go in them, or building materials for example.”

According to Debra Avara, a professor of behavioral studies, the consumer price index rose 5.4% from the previous year, which is the highest since 2008. “Inflation affects businesses on all scales. Inflation causes the price of items for sale to rise, which means people may need to buy less. Paying necessary living expenses first, leaves less money for the people to spend on wants. Our purchasing power of the dollar does not go as far as it used to,” Avara said.

AC students are feeling the squeeze from increased prices. Marissa Cooney, a psychology major, said, “Inflation has been happening for years, slowly. Things getting more expensive at the grocery stores, gas yo-yoing and stuff like that. COVID just sped up that process. If we were living paycheck to paycheck, COVID put us over the edge. I also feel that the effects of corporate greed have gone too far. I believe students need more help now than ever. Inflation has caused me to spend more money just to survive.”

The effect from inflation can impact more than just finances. It can also impact emotional and mental health. “I personally find that students are needing more emotional help than necessarily financial help. Many of our students have financial barriers and we have resources in place to help them through the ARC, scholarships etc.,” Burks said.

“I think the effects of the pandemic exacerbated the mental health problems of some who were already experiencing depression or other issues. For others, the social isolation and change of habits are having long-term effects that we are just now beginning to see. Learning for K-12 students in poverty suffered tremendously because of the pandemic. Families dealing with the loss of a loved one and those suffering long-term health symptoms from COVID created an emotional toll on people and it will take time for them to process all the changes. All of these things together make life seem very overwhelming for many. It’s hard to quantify how or why some need more help than others. But again, I think it’s more of mental and emotional health issues than financial issues in terms of help that students are needing,” Burks concluded.

The price of a standard size of drip coffee in 1970 was .25 cents. While America did experience inflation in the 1970s, the current inflation situation stems from a different economic problem. The 1970s-era inflations was amplified by oil embargoes that sent prices soaring, thus feeding inflation and slowing down the economy. Today, while oil prices are higher, a large part of the inflation is a result of the demand surge tied to the global economy jumpstarting after the COVID shutdown.

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