Millions of Americans are running out of ways to make ends meet. And here’s the bad news.

Millions of Americans are facing a big payday crunch: The cost of eating out is rising at more than twice the rate of inflation this year.

That’s according to the new Labor Department Consumer Price Index for Food Services and away-from-home food away from home released Friday. The index was up 0.5 percent in July, following a 0.4 percent increase in June.

“Every month, we get a couple of double digit increases in food prices,” said David Certner, legislative policy director at the Consumer Federation of America. Those increases are piling up, adding up to a rising cost of eating out for average Americans.

The food service index fell sharply at the turn of the decade but it has been rising ever since. For instance, in July 2016, the food service index climbed to $60.61 per person. Last month, it was up to $69.25. While prices for certain categories of food are trending up, many things like fruits and vegetables are falling, Certner said.

Higher food prices are a much bigger squeeze on people than the cost of a cocktail in a city bar, Certner said. “It’s very hard to push the standard of living above it by $2 a month, or $5 a month, or $10 a month.”

The Consumer Price Index is a measure of all the goods and services Americans buy for consumption. In July, all of the “nonseasonally adjusted” consumer price index recorded a rise of 0.4 percent, a slower rate of increase than June’s 0.5 percent but one that still marks the best performance since 2015.

It’s “very close to the highest rate of inflation we’ve had in 30 years,” Certner said.

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