Saturday, May 18, 2024
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Inflation speeds up in new federal data



Consumer prices continued to rise at an elevated rate in March, according to newly released federal inflation data. This marks yet another month of elevated prices, showing inflation’s rise may not be over after all.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on Wednesday released its Consumer Price Index, a key marker of inflation, which showed prices rose 0.4% in March. Increases in gasoline and shelter were major parts of the overall increase.

Over the last 12 months, consumer prices have risen 3.5%, according to BLS, an increase from the 12-month average released in last month’s data.

“The energy index rose 1.1 percent over the month. The food index rose 0.1 percent in March,” BLS said. “The food at home index was unchanged, while the food away from home index rose 0.3 percent over the month.”

Experts raised the alarm after the data was released.

“Core CPI coming in very hot for the third month in the row,” Jason Furman, a Harvard professor and former economic advisor during the Obama administration, wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “The numbers are not kind to the thesis that January was a seasonal anomaly.

“Overall it is a mystery to me why anyone thinks the Fed might cut rates in June,” he added. “The labor market data is screaming a cut isn’t needed for one side of the mandate. And the price data is screaming that it could be dangerous for the other side of the mandate.”

Although prices increased overall, changes varied across different goods and services.

“Indexes which increased in March include shelter, motor vehicle insurance, medical care, apparel, and personal care,” BLS said. “The indexes for used cars and trucks, recreation, and new vehicles were among those that decreased over the month.”

While overall food prices remained largely steady, some items became more expensive.

“The index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs rose 0.9 percent in March, as the index for eggs rose 4.6 percent over the month,” BLS said. “The nonalcoholic beverages index also increased in March, rising 0.3 percent. The index for fruits and vegetables increased 0.1 percent over the month.”

President Joe Biden has repeatedly taken fire for the spike in prices since he took office. After Wednesday’s data was released, Republicans blasted him again.

“Under President Biden’s failed Bidenomics agenda, inflation has skyrocketed by 19.4% since he took office,” Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., said in a statement. “Prices keep climbing, and wages can’t keep up. That’s why I have been fighting every day to stop Democrats from doubling down on the reckless spending that got us here in the first place. As someone who grew up in public housing and watched my mom struggle to pay the bills, I know how devastating inflation is for families like mine growing up.”