You don’t have to be below the poverty line to feel the pain of inflation. Prices are getting so bad it hurts the middle class too. This week, 13 Action News takes a look at the problem and where to go for help, in a series we call the . to call Middle missing†
“It’s hard. It’s hard for a number of reasons,” says Aaron Stewart.
He makes some lifestyle changes. He says inflation makes him see things differently.
“The American dream was the white wooden fence, the house. I’m not sure I’ll ever own a house,” Aaron says.
This single father of three children recently had to move in with his mother. Aaron says his apartment was getting too expensive.
“In two years, it went from $800 a month for a two-bedroom apartment I lived in, to $1,100 a month,” Aaron says.
Aaron is grateful for his mother’s help, but admits it’s hard.
“You know, three bouncing young ladies who want to jump and play. But we also have to consider that we live with someone else,” says Aaron.
MESSAGES & GAS
But inflation does not only affect his living situation. Aaron has also put his dream of owning his own business on hold.
“I have to go back to a full-time job to make ends meet,” Aaron says.
Aaron has his own coffee cart business. But inflation took a huge bite out of his profits.
“Every dollar has to go to milk, which is higher now, flavors that have gone up, as well as even ice cream,” Aaron says.
On top of the higher food prices, Aaron felt the pain at the gas pump.
“If it costs $115 to fill the tank, sometimes you go out to sell, and you don’t just earn the gas you needed to get there,” Aaron says.
But there is another problem. Like thousands of other residents of the valley, Aaron tried to get help but ran into a major roadblock.
“I’ve made too much money to get any kind of help, which doesn’t feel like you’re earning too much. But you’re making too much money on everything SNAP benefits, welfare, housing,” Aaron says.
Aaron is part of the missing middle. A group that cannot find the help they need in the existing system. Aaron isn’t rich, but he earns too much money to qualify for government aid.
“The fact that I’m making pretty decent money works against me to be able to participate in these programs, so it doesn’t make sense because I don’t think I’m making that much money, especially when we’re struggling,” Aaron says.
“I believe Aaron is not alone… requests almost across the board and the need is greater,” said President and CEO Julian High with: United Way of Southern Nevada†
He says 64 percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. But due to the rise in inflation, 20 percent of those people now do not have enough to make ends meet.
The good news is, High says the necessary changes are being made to give Southern Nevada’s middle class the help they need.
“I think like America and Las Vegans always do, we’ve made some adjustments and there’s an opportunity for resources for people who may not have known them before, because the landscape has changed,” High says.
That’s good news for Aaron, who says he’ll take all the help he can get. But until then, despite everything, he says he and his family can still count themselves lucky.
“You know, I’m not sure what that new normal is, but we’re healthy, we’re happy. We just need to adjust our expectations,” Aaron says.