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It’s ‘Going to Take Time and Effort to Get Rid of’: Why $100 Haircuts In Philly Indicate Inflation is Here to Stay

The price of men’s haircuts could cost upward of $80 for a simple fade. That’s what is happening in Philly.

Popular social media barbers who are influencers like Kenneth Carruth IV, also known as The4thKen on TikTok, are raising the prices of their services to meet the demands of clients, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Photo by RODNAE Productions:

A Pricey Cut

Haircuts that once costs $15 are now priced between $80 and $100. The rise in prices started during the pandemic, and inflation has boosted them even higher. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reports that haircut prices increased nearly 7 percent in November 2022 in a year-over-year comparison. 

Haircut price hikes seem to be a trend among younger barbers, who, like Carruth, 20, think, “a lot of older barbers that are stuck in their ways that refuse to change, and unfortunately, they’re more than likely gonna get left behind.” 

TikTok Barbers

Carruth, who has more than 1.8 million likes on TikTok, believes that the pandemic has assured barbers are more needed than previously perceived–and this more valuable. 

“I feel like pre-pandemic, barbers were undervalued. Now, barbers are starting to realize their worth and see that it’s not just about the cut. You’re providing an experience,” Carruth said.

“My client paid me $80 for this haircut,” Carruth said. There are videos of the young barber with a listing of prices that are $100 and up.

Jalen Thompson, a 23-year-old barber in West Philadelphia, charges between $45 and $75 for haircuts and sometimes more than $120 if they are house calls. 

And while the prices of the haircuts are more lucrative, Thompson told the Inquirer some of his customers opted to look elsewhere for an affordable haircut. 

According to Salary, as of Dec. 27, the average Philly barber has a yearly income of $35,310, but the range typically is between $28,426 and $42,523. 

Important factors such as a barber’s education, certifications, additional skills, and professional experience determine one’s earnings.  

Haircuts and Inflation

There is an old belief that you can gauge inflation by the cost of a haircut. Many economists say that when haircut prices increase, it’s a sign that inflation has affected the economy. 

When the U.S. was on an economic upswing between 2010 and 2012 following a recession, haircut prices remained relatively flat. The cost did increase as the last expansion continued and there was a labor shortage. But, reported The Wall Street Journal, that price hike didn’t compare to haircut prices currently reflecting the pace of inflation.

So why is the price of a haircut tied to economic health? The cost of running a barbershop or salon has two main expenses, rent and labor, both of which cost more during inflation.

According to Stephen Cecchetti, a Brandeis University international finance professor who tracked inflation for the White House when prices were soaring during the 1970s, the spike in haircut prices matches his estimate that underlying inflation is more than 5 percent, and won’t drop quickly.

“Most of this inflation is now built into the system in a way that is going to take time and effort to get rid of,” Cecchetti told The WSJ.

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