Searches for ‘cost of living’ highest in a decade in the US, says Google report

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MOUNTAIN VIEW (California, USA): In a report released by the Alphabet-owned tech giant, Google searches for ‘cost of living’ and for ‘financial assistance’ reached a 10-year high in 2022, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The report said the latest Google Trends data found that ‘What does a recession mean for me?’ was a breakout search in 2022 as Americans braced for things to get worse. According to an article by Wall Street Journal, inflation hitting its highest point in 40 years, rising prices and fears of a recession have dominated the news cycle and dinner table conversations this year.

The WSJ article said while economists and policymakers may be divided on whether the US is in a recession or not, the search queries that have spiked on Google this year suggested that many Americans are already suffering financial hardship. The Google Trend also indicated that lookups for ‘I need financial assistance immediately’ hit a 10-year high this month.

Mentioning food insecurity, the WSJ article said food prices rose 10.6 per cent last month compared with a year ago, according to government data released on Tuesday — although the silver lining is that food costs were down slightly from 10.9 per cent in October.

Google Trend noted that over the past year, searches for ‘food bank distribution schedule’ have more than doubled in the US. There was also a 20 per cent increase in searches for ‘food bank and pantries’ from 2021, according to the WSJ article.

“Rising costs and disruption caused by the pandemic have left many Americans facing financial hardship”, Google’s director of search, Hema Budaraju, wrote in a blog post, according to the WSJ report. “People are turning to the internet to find help and support to navigate the uncertainty.”

At least November’s softer-than-expected consumer-price index suggests inflation is easing a bit, the WSJ article said. Budaraju noted that among the top financial assistance-related questions searched in the US in 2022 were: ‘How to get financial assistance’, ‘financial assistance for medical bills’ and ‘what is financial assistance for disability?’

And who or what were they seeking financial assistance for? According to Google, the most searched ‘financial assistance for…’ queries in 2022 included aid for cancer patients, medical bills, veterans, breast cancer patients and released prisoners, the Wall Street Journal article said. (ANI)

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