The numbers show inflation trending down but many say they're not feeling it yet

Posted at 6:24 PM, Feb 14, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-14 19:32:05-05

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen was in town Wednesday with new economic data. It shows inflation continues to come down but not as fast as most had predicted.

The cost of eating out has gone up, so I’m learning what that means on this Valentine’s Day.

“The trend here is that inflation is moving decisively down,” Yellen said.

Yellen addressed Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Detroit Economic Club on Wednesday.

janet yellen gretchen whitmer
U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speak with the Detroit Economic Club on Feb. 14, 2024.

While overall inflation is trending down, that’s not the experience for many in metro Detroit.

“We’re leaving the house less. We’re stocking up on groceries,” said one consumer we asked.

restaurant inflation

Still, Yellen insists that wages are up.

“For the median worker in the United States, if you compare today with 2019, the typical worker can buy the same basket of goods and services, their wages have gone up to permit that, and they have $1,400 left over,” Yellen said.

I caught up with Michelle Choice, the sales manager at, a Brazilian steakhouse in Troy. She explained the importance of Valentine’s Day.

“It’s definitely one of the big holidays out of the year for anyone in the restaurant industry,” Choice said. “We are incredibly lucky to still see a full house on days like today.”

Fogo de Chao
Fogo de Chao sales manager talks with 7 Action News anchor Mike Duffy on Feb. 14, 2024.

But she says she’s not surprised to hear the cost of eating out has increased 5.1% year over year.

“You can feel the shift in when and how they’re choosing to spend their money because we don’t see that family dinner coming out as frequently anymore,” Choice said.

“You know, it’s Valentine’s Day, so we cannot avoid going out to eat, right? But then this is once in some time event. So that will be OK. However, if you frequently go out to eat, you will feel the pressure of inflation,” said Albert Zhu, an assistant professor of economics at Wayne State University.

Albert Zhu Wayne State
Albert Zhu, an economics professor at Wayne State University, speaks with 7 Action News on Feb. 14, 2024.

He says it’s true, wages are rising to offset the rising costs and, in some areas, prices are even dropping.

“In the commodities sector, actually, prices dropped. For example, even in Detroit, I would say that the car industry is the main industry supporting the entire area. And the car market has already started to drop, both the new and the used car market,” Zhu said.

We asked Zhu how he was feeling.

“As an economist, I wouldn’t be too worried about this number,” Zhu said.