Google searches for the highest ‘cost of living’ in a decade

What’s going on in people’s heads in 2022? The economy, stupid.

In fact, Google is looking for “cost of living” and financial support reached a 10-year high in 2022, according to a report by Alphabet-owned GOOGL.
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search engine Wednesday, hours before the Fed meeting where Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell was expected to raise interest rates again to fight inflation.

Clearly, inflation has hit its highest level in 40 years, rising prices and fears of a recession have dominated the news cycle and dinner table conversations this year. In fact, recent data from Google Trends revealed that “What does a recession mean to me?” was a breakout search in 2022 as Americans prepared for things to get worse.

But while economists and policymakers may disagree about whether or not the U.S. is in a recession, the search queries that have spiked on Google this year suggest that many Americans are already suffering financial hardship. Searches for “I need financial help now” hit a 10-year high this month.

See: How we reached the highest inflation in 40 years

Take food insecurity, for example. Food prices rose 10.6% last month from a year ago, government data showed on Tuesday – although the upside is that food prices fell slightly from 10.9% in October. And Google noted that over the past year, searches for “food bank distribution schedule” have more than doubled in the United States. There was also a 20% increase in searches for “food bank and pantry” from 2021.

And inquiries related to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, which provides electronic benefits to help feed more than 42 million Americans each year, reached an all-time high at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in April 2020. And SNAP – related searches continued to exceed pre-pandemic search interest levels, Google said, with the most popular SNAP queries this year including “How do I apply for food stamps?” and “How do you benefit from food stamps?”

Read more: Food inflation is slowing, but double-digit percentage increases continue for these items

“Rising costs and disruptions caused by the pandemic have left many Americans struggling financially,” Google search director Hema Budaraju wrote in a blog post Wednesday morning. “People turn to the Internet for help and support in navigating uncertainty.”

November’s weaker-than-expected consumer price index at least suggests that inflation is easing a bit.

Budaraju noted that some of the top questions related to financial aid sought in the US in 2022 included: “How to get financial aid”, “Financial aid for medical expenses” and “What is financial aid”. funding for people with disabilities? And for whom or what did they seek financial help? According to Google, the most searched “financial help for…” queries in 2022 included help for cancer patients, medical bills, veterans, breast cancer patients and released prisoners.

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Americans also Googled how to apply for financial assistance in general, as well as instructions for applying for or qualifying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Medicaid and Medicare. , in particular.

Related: Social Security recipients may get a short break in 2023

Meanwhile, the most common questions about economic uncertainty in the US in 2022 included:

1. What is inflation?

2. What is a recession?

3. What happens during a recession?

4. Will the housing market collapse?

5. Is a recession coming?

Read more: Financial markets are issuing a warning that a recession is imminent: here’s what it means for stocks

The good news is that there are plenty of resources available to help people (and their money) through uncertain economic times, including CNET. Worried about what the news means for your wallet? Personal Finance Daily breaks things down every day. Listen to the best new ideas in money podcast or sign up for the daily Need To Know newsletter, which provides information on all the market news before the day starts.

Google has also updated its search experience to make local government websites and resources more accessible online. The blog post notes that “you can find quick information about eligibility criteria, how to apply, locally relevant contact information and easy access to login portals when you register” for services like SNAP and SSDI with a quick Google search.

Learn more from CNET:

5 things to watch when the Fed makes its rate decision

Vanguard sees a recession in 2023 – and a “silver lining” for investors. Is this a good – or bad – time for me to ask for a raise?

The labor market is strong, but layoffs are increasing

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