Watch: What Does Record High Inflation Mean For Everyday Americans?

By Seth Cutler | Saturday, 14 May 2022 05:15
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Inflation dropped to 8.3% for the 12 months ending in April, according to the consumer price index, the first plunge in eight months but still a higher rate than economists had foreseen.

The much-expected numbers reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Tuesday showed that inflation is still going strong despite the Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes and is near the worst since February 1982 during the Great Inflation that helped bring President Ronald Reagan to office.

The high inflation has eaten into President Joe Biden’s approval ratings as he and Democrats approach the midterm elections. Since last August, consumer prices have been growing fast, particularly for staples such as food and gas. Typical weekly grocery bills, for example, have risen by more than $30.

Energy prices moderated in April but have soared 30.3% over the past year, while food prices have surged 9.4%, according to the data released on Wednesday.

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Although headline inflation fell, the points of Wednesday’s report suggested underlying upward pressure on prices. Core CPI, which measures the changes in the price of goods and services excluding food and energy, rose by a strong 0.6% for the month, more than the 0.4% that economists had predicted.

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“With the annual rate ticking down from 8.5% to 8.3, it can be tempting to say we’ve seen the peak, but we’ve also been head-faked before as was the case last August,” said Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate. “Core prices that had been a reason for hope one month ago are a reason for disappointment this month.”

The indices for shelter, airline fares, new vehicles, medical care, and recreation all ticked up in April, while the indices for apparel, communication, and used cars and trucks trended downward last month.

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In some good news for the economy, used-car prices, which were previously a significant driver of inflation, fell for the third month in a row.

The Federal Reserve announced in March that it would hike its interest rate target by a quarter of a percentage point, the first-rate increase since 2018, to rein in the higher prices. However, some economists and many Republicans say the central bank should have moved sooner to reverse its pandemic emergency measures.

This month, the Federal Open Market Committee announced it would increase its interest rate target by a half percentage point. The central bank typically raises rates by just a quarter percentage point, so the move is equal to two rate hikes at once and shows that the Fed is involved with the growing prices.

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