As millions of Americans return to the workplace, they’re discovering that higher prices for just about everything are putting a bigger dent in their pay.

Economists call the trend “lunchflation.”

From gas and commute costs to daycare and food, workers are finding their pay hasn’t kept pace with inflation, and the daily expenses of being at the office are rapidly growing.

Food prices alone were up by 9.4% last month, according to the Labor Department. That’s the biggest jump since 1981.

“Lunchflation is 100% real, everything is more expensive,” Maryland resident Kelly Yau told CNN. “Before, you could get lunch for $7 to $12. Now there is no way you can get a decent lunch for less than $15.”

What can be done?

Perhaps larger employers could consider temporary assistance for workers as they transition back to offices.

This could include incentives for brown bagging lunches — perhaps coupons for sandwich ingredients — or discounts at nearby eateries.

It could also include stipends to assist with gas and daycare.

A steady stream of interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve is intended to cool the economy and bring inflation under control.

That, however, could take months if not years. In the meantime, Americans are finding their paychecks don’t go as far as might have been the case prior to Mean Mr. Covid.