What happens when you work 60 or more hours a week across a couple of jobs and you still can’t make ends meet? Things are tough the world over, though inflation has hit working families particularly hard in Phoenix, Arizona, where price increases on gas and basic household groceries have outstripped the national average. At High Country News, Matthew Cantor explains how the Beltrán and Cudjo families are prioritizing what they need over what they want.

…Phoenix, Arizona, which in August saw inflation hit 13% over the preceding 12 months, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics — a record for any U.S. city over the past two decades. (Nationally, the figure was 8.3%.) Gas prices were up 33.5% in the area versus 26.2% across the U.S. Economists have pointed to the surging housing costs and rapid post-lockdown job growth as key drivers of inflation in the Phoenix region — which is among the fastest-growing areas in the country — where the average household devotes 34% of its budget to housing.

Beltrán and his wife, a full-time administrative assistant, have felt the soaring prices at the gas station and the grocery store. A gallon of milk cost $1.98 in the city in 2018; at Beltran’s local supermarket, it’s now $3.49.

Stephanie Cudjo…seated outside her office on a lunch break this month, Cudjo had a broad smile and an easy composure. But like Beltrán, Cudjo has found that a single, full-time job isn’t enough to support her daughter and son, who are now 16 and 11. After her day job at a law firm, where she often works more than 90 hours in a two-week pay period, she’ll run errands, cook, and help her kids with their homework. In the late evenings, she goes online to her second job, doing clerical work for a multinational company. “My son says, ‘Mom, you come home and you just go back to work again.’ I go, ‘Well, how are we gonna survive?’”