EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — The latest cost of living numbers are out, and the numbers are not good. The inflation rate stands at a four-decade high.

The labor department released those numbers Thursday, which reflect the struggle Americans face to make ends meet.

Some legitimate fears exist that the US is heading into a recession.

The inflation report reveals, in part, what we already knew, we are digging deep into our wallets to pay for the essentials.

Browsing the grocery store aisles at Schiel’s Family Market in South Wilkes-Barre, Eileen Kelly of Exeter is shopping on a tight budget.

“I’m very frugal. I watch all my pennies,” Kelly noted.

The 79-year-old widow has to. She’s trying to make ends meet on a fixed income.

“And It’s tough. You know, you work 50 years but you didn’t have a retirement (plan) all those years and your retirement is gone and then it’s just social security,” Kelly continued.

The cost of living is taking a bite out of family budgets like it hasn’t since 1982.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed Thursday morning that a wide variety of goods and services rose 0.4% in September, four times higher than it did in August.

Overall, consumer prices were up 8.2% year-over-year in September. Grocery prices led the way at a whopping 11% increase year-over-year.

“The price of chicken is at an all-time high. The price of ground beef is at an all-time high. Even milk is going high. So we have to do something about this,” Dominick Graham of Wilkes-Barre explained.

The Federal Reserve System likely will.

“I think the Federal Reserve is going to have to continue to raise interest rates which means mortgage rates are going to go up,” Economics Department Chair at King’s College, Doctor Valerie Kepner, explained.

Interest rate hikes are intended to cool consumer spending and stabilize rapidly rising prices. Many of us are turning to credit cards to buy the essentials and make some tough choices.

“Especially when you’re going to have to make decisions about do you pay for gas, do you pay for heat, do you pay for food,” Dr. Kepner continued.

Paying for food is a burden on grocery stores, too.

“Not only is it tough to get some products in but it costs more. But we’re doing our best to keep the prices down for our consumers,” Human Resources Manager at Schiel’s Family Markets, Fred Schiel, noted.

Consumers, like Lea Kline of Larksville, says she’s doing more comparative shopping until the sting of inflation eases.

Eyewitness News Reporter, Mark Hiller asks, “We all hope that there’s an end in sight but what are your feelings?”

Kline says, “I don’t see it coming and the prices that are up, they’re going to keep them up just because they know people are paying it.”

If the Fed decides next month to raise interest rates, it would mark the sixth time this year that it’s done so.

King’s College’s Dr. Kepner says it would probably be too optimistic to expect inflation to be under control by the end of the year, but she believes it may slowly get better.