The average U.S. household is on track to spend an additional $1,150, or 2.4 percent this year on essentials, according to an analysis of consumer prices by The Daily. While much of that increase will be offset by slightly higher wages, certain expenditures such as clothing and medical care are climbing higher.
Meanwhile, Bernanke, in a semiannual report to Congress, said hiring would be “frustratingly slow” and urged lawmakers to end their debt standoff, the so-called fiscal cliff, before the issue spooks markets as it did a year ago. Unless Congress acts, the economy will be broadsided by massive spending cuts and tax increases Jan. 1. What’s more, the Fed is forecasting now that the unemployment rate won’t go below 7 percent at least before the end of 2014.