The cost of goods and services have been on the steady increase.  St. Cloud State University Economist King Banaian joined me on WJON.  He says wages are catching up with inflation but that also carries consequences.  Banaian believes if wages go up too much it will cause interest rates to stay higher for longer because the Federal Reserve will feel like inflation hasn't made enough progress and they won't cut rates.  He expects interest rates to hold fairly steady but they have come down slightly over the past few weeks.  Banaian doesn't see interest rates coming down much between now and the end of the year.  He says for the inflation rate to change and come back toward 2% we'd have to have zero price change.  Banaian says we've been at .2% price increase each month recently.

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What is the gap between rich and poor in this country?  That is a question I posed to Banaian.  He says they have numbers that identify poor people in this county called the poverty rate.  Banaian believes those making $30,000 to $32,000 a year are likely sitting at the poverty level.  He says this is based on income for a family of 4.  Banaian believes if you are a single person, it is a much smaller number.  He says to stay above the poverty level it would require people to make more that $15 an hour.  What makes someone rich in Central Minnesota?  Banaian believes that number would be more than $150,000 a year.

Banaian believes the wages of middle class people in America has gone up.  He says there are more and more families in 2024 with dual incomes than we saw 20 to 30 years ago.  Banaian suggests people are working harder and have less leisure time than they used to but value leisure time more.

King Banaian also addresses St. Cloud State's financial situation and summer travel for Minnesotans.  My conversation with King is below.



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