From groceries to housing: How inflation is actually impacting you

The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Michael Kanell and J. Scott Trubey give an in-depth look at where the state’s economy stands on ‘Politically Georgia’
Atlanta Journal-Constitution senior economic writer Michael Kanell, left, and his editor, J. Scott Trubey, discussed the state's economy Thursday on "Politically Georgia."

Credit: AJC

Credit: AJC

Atlanta Journal-Constitution senior economic writer Michael Kanell, left, and his editor, J. Scott Trubey, discussed the state's economy Thursday on "Politically Georgia."

Memorial Day is right around the corner, and people are paying more attention to the prices of gas, groceries, housing and travel.

Overall, the economy is expected to play a huge role in this year’s presidential election. In fact, a new poll from The Guardian shows a majority of Americans wrongly believe the United States is in recession. And a new poll of registered voters from Quinnipiac found 54% of respondents prefer former President Donald Trump on the economy, while 42% favor President Joe Biden.

Michael Kanell, senior economic writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and his editor, J. Scott Trubey, joined the hosts of “Politically Georgia” to give a breakdown of where Georgia stands on the economy. Below, you’ll find a partial transcript of that conversation.

Q: To what extent can voters blame a president for the state of the economy?

Michael Kanell: “Economists often say that a president gets much too much blame for the things that go wrong in the economy and he gets much too much credit for the things that go right.”

J. Scott Trubey: “And let’s not forget that absent government intervention (during the COVID-19 pandemic), the economy would have dissolved. We had to keep the economy afloat. So we, you know, there was a bipartisan effort during Trump’s presidency to keep the economy afloat. Then bipartisan effort in 2021 (under Biden). (If) those actions were not taken, the economy would really be in bad, bad shape.”

Q: How do people relate to the economy?

Kanell: “I deal in data all the time, but people don’t experience the economy in terms of data. They experience the economy in terms of an endless flow of anecdotes and situations. And they don’t look at, they don’t pick up a gallon of milk and say, ‘Oh, this is $3.19, that’s, that’s down 1.3% from a year ago.’ And so it’s not a scientific feeling; people relate to the economy in terms of their feelings and in terms of whether it’s stressing them personally or not.”

Q: What is Georgia’s overall economic outlook?

Trubey: “One thing that we, you know, since I started covering business in Georgia, I mean, we’ve diversified our economy. I mean, you now have this, you know, clean energy and, and green jobs boom, whether it be electric vehicles or batteries or solar panels — you’ve had further investments in technology. So we’ve had this tremendous diversification in our economy really going back out of the great financial crisis, and that’s helped us.”

Q: How is Georgia doing in terms of rent?

Kanell: “We’re cheaper than a lot of places, and the rents stopped going up. There are a lot of apartments having been built, and somebody who’s trying to rent apartments is more likely to give you a little bit of a discount to get you into that apartment. Whereas, somebody who’s had an apartment for three years may be paying more.

What’s the state’s housing market like?

Kanell: “If you’re trying to be a homebuyer for the first time, that’s tough. If you’re a homeowner and you’re, the value of your home has gone up 25%, 35%, 50% in the past five years, you may think of it a little bit differently.”

What are we seeing in gas prices?

Trubey: “The price of gas is always a huge concern. Mike did a piece the other day saying that metro Atlanta gas prices have dipped, and the summer season begins. But prices in recent weeks have come down. They’re a hair over what they were a year ago, but they’ve actually come down a bit.”

What has the impact been on groceries?

Kanell: “Groceries depend on, depends on where you shop, what you buy and what your choices are in, in, in shopping and, and in feeding your family and, and so you don’t, you’re not locked into whatever the inflation number might be.”

What’s happened with insurance rates?

Trubey: “Those have gone up tremendously, particularly in Georgia with auto insurance rates, you know, and Mike had a story about that back in February. If you’re, you have full coverage, comprehensive coverage, you’re paying more in Georgia, significantly more than you were three or four years ago.”

What is the economic outlook for Georgia in 2024?

Kanell: “Absent something really shocking, we’re going to have continued moderate growth for the rest of this year.”

Trubey: “But I mean, right now, I mean, if you look at, I think it was the Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow forecast has us at an economic growth rate above 3%. It might be 4%. I didn’t look at it this morning, but that’s pretty substantial growth for the year for a developed nation, for a developed economy. So, I mean, the economy is still plugging along, still doing well, even if not everybody’s quite feeling it.”

Friday on “Politically Georgia”: Quentin Fulks, the deputy campaign manager for Biden’s reelection bid, sits down with Tia Mitchell for an exclusive interview.