Inflation Remained Near 40-Year High in April at 8.3%
Are you feeling the financial pressure of inflation?
What’s the story?
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Wednesday that the all items consumer price index (CPI) rose by 8.3% over the last 12 months through April. Inflation remained near a four-decade high and is more than four times the Federal Reserve’s target rate of 2%.
- April marks the fifth consecutive month with inflation running at 7% or higher during the preceding 12-month period. Inflation rose from 7% in December to 7.5% in January, 7.9% in February, and 8.5% in March ― which was the highest rate of inflation for a comparable period since December 1981.
- Month-to-month consumer prices rose 0.3% in April after rising 1.2% in March on a seasonally adjusted basis.
- Additionally, the BLS reported Thursday that the producer price index (PPI) increased by 0.5% in April on a seasonally adjusted basis following gains of 1.6% in March and 1.1% in February. Over the last 12 months through April, the PPI increased 11%.
What goods did prices increase the most for?
- Here’s a rundown of the common consumer items which have seen the largest price increases due to inflation year-over-year (notable monthly changes in parentheses):
- Fuel oil rose 80.5%.
- Gasoline of all types increased 43.6%.
- Propane, kerosene, and firewood rose 26.5%.
- Used cars and trucks rose 22.7%.
- Utility gas service (piped) rose 22.7%.
- Eggs rose 22.6%.
- Lodging away from home increased 19.7%.
- Citrus fruits rose 18.6%.
- Chicken rose 16.4%.
- Furniture and bedding rose 15%.
- Milk rose 14.7%.
- Beef and veal rose 14.3%.
- Milk rose 14.2%.
- Pork rose 13.7%.
- Coffee rose 13.5%.
- New vehicles rose 13.2%.
- Fish and seafood rose 11.9%.
- Tools, hardware, outdoor equipment, and supplies rose 11.2%.
- Electricity rose 11%.
- Cereal and bakery products rose 10.3%.
- Fresh fruits rose 8.3%.
- Men’s apparel rose 8%.
- Financial services rose 6.9%.
- Women’s apparel rose 5.3%.
What is inflation and how is it measured?
- Inflation is a measure of the decline of purchasing power for a given currency over time, which in the U.S. means that a dollar effectively buys less than it did in prior periods because prices rise.
- Inflation can be caused by imbalances of supply and demand in the economy. On the demand side, if there is strong consumer demand that suppliers are constrained in meeting through increased production, prices will rise. On the supply side, increases in production costs like raw materials or wages lead to those costs being passed onto consumers through higher prices for goods produced.
- Fiscal policies can also contribute to inflationary pressures in the economy by increasing discretionary income for businesses and consumers. The government can attempt to stimulate the economy through transfers of cash to consumers and raising their discretionary income, or by increasing spending on things like infrastructure, both of which can cause inflation. It can also cut taxes that result in businesses spending more on capital projects, raising employees’ wages, and hiring new employees; or giving consumers more after-tax income leading to elevated demand for goods and services.
- Additionally, the monetary policy of a central bank like the Federal Reserve can contribute to inflation when it lowers interest rates to expand the money supply and thereby stimulate more spending by businesses and consumers.
- The most common way inflation is measured is through the Consumer Price Index for Urban Consumers (CPI-U), which shows changes in prices paid for a “representative basket of goods and services” by an urban consumer group representing about 93% of the U.S. population.
- CPI-U includes food, energy, commodities like cars and clothes, plus services such as rent and healthcare; and the relative importance of each to the overall basket shifts according to its proportion of all spending in a given month. This overall number is known as “headline” CPI, although economists also track a metric called “core” CPI which excludes food and energy because those categories tend to have more volatility.
- Inflation can also be measured through the Producer Price Index (PPI), which measures prices for inputs and expenses incurred by producers and suppliers of goods. If producer prices rise, it can eventually cause the CPI to rise as those higher prices are passed onto consumers.
- The Federal Reserve aims to keep inflation at about 2% as part of its dual mandate of promoting stable prices and full employment, as a modest amount of inflation is viewed as an optimum policy in terms of encouraging consumer spending without penalizing savings and investment. When inflation starts to get out of control, the Fed raises interest rates to encourage more savings and less consumer spending.
- Federal Reserve Announces Largest Interest Rate Hike in Over 20 Years in Effort to Tame Inflation - What Does It Mean? (5/5/22)
— Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: iStock.com / sefa ozel)
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Inflation is a multi-decade, multi-administration problem created by a very complex global economy unable to respond to pandemics, war, weather disasters, etc. that interest rate hikes and money supply reductions won't fix.
The big contributors are corporporate consolidations reducing competition for product pricing & labor rates, global supply chain disruptions for crisises (pandemic, war, weather, etc), labor shortages due to demographics (aging population, immigration problems, health & weather crisises) that was accelerated during the pandemic creating the Great Resignation, and unbridled corporate profit taking that corporate executives brag about in their earnings calls that they raised prices not just for increased costs but increased profit taking just because they can.
1) Supply Chain Disruptions. The automotive industry has chip shortages reducing new car availability and driving up prices of used cars. China still has lockdowns affecting global supply chains. Need China competitiveness legislation and businesses to bring supply chains back to US.
2) Labor Problems. “The Great Resignation” Whether people lost their jobs due to less demand or quit over fear of Covid there are less people working and less being produced as a result. Or in the case of nurses 500K+ have quit due to overworked and are starting new careers. A survey shows that since February 2020, 30% of healthcare workers have either lost their jobs (12%) or quit (18%), while 31% of those who kept them have considered leaving their employers during the pandemic. That includes 19% who have thought about leaving the health care field entirely. Labor shortage drivers:
---Loss of immigrant labor due to Covid restrictions - 2M of which 1M are higher educated adults and 1M more menial workers.
——Retirement. Fearing Covid and plenty of retirement savings due to a booming stock market. 3.3M more than projected pre-pandemic. I know many people in this category. Need immigration legislation.
---Working Moms. 1.5M with school-age children.
Requires minimum wage, healthcare legislation, just b training & education.
3) Food Supply - Less Corporations due to acquisitions & mergers leading to less competition & supply limitations to increase prices. Lawsuits by farmers & grocery stores against large food companies document these problems. For instance meat price increases:
----largest publicly traded meat processing companies never had higher profit margins (300% higher than 2019) passing on profit padding in addition to increased costs to the consumer.
----prices initially increase as workers fell sick with Covid (86K sick - 423 died) causing closures and 40% of processing capacity lost.
——Current difficulties filling positions as corporate consolidation has created less plants that are larger with more cramped working conditions that had large Covid outbreaks
----unsafe working conditions
----wages that haven’t kept up with inflation (1982 base pay adjusted for inflation $29/hr v current pay of $15/hr)
----cattle & hog herds shrunk due to low prices from less processing capacity and draught leading to herd liquidation
----wheat, corn, grain feed prices highest due to drought and Chinese demand, and sugar, tomatoes & melons price increases due to extreme weather events
----food packaging shortages due to shutdowns in Texas plastics refineries from weather and power outages.
---fewer companies competing due to market consolidation following 1970s anti-trust legislation changes. 4 companies control 1/2 the market for pork, coffee, cookies, beer, bread; and 80% for beef processing, baby food, pasta, and soda.
Biden Executive Order (7-9-21) for USDA & FTC actions, but more needed especially anti-trust legislation for companies related to food supply
4) Excessive Corporations Profits (Bumblebee, Chipotle, Colgate-Palmolive, Kellogg, Kroger, McDonalds, Proctor & Gamble, Pepsi, Starbucks, Unilever, Walmart, to name a few) have been bragging in their earnings calls with analysts to get better ratings and buy recommendations that they have raised prices higher than their increased costs and then some just because they can, as well as, several price fixing lawsuits proving this. Even Jerome Powell, chairman of the Federal Reserve, acknowledged at a Senate Banking Committee hearing Tuesday, Jan. 11, that companies are “raising prices because they can.” Decreasing numbers of companies decreases supply and supply is kept to levels that support high prices. 2/3rds of the largest publicly traded US companies have reported better profits in 2021 than the same period in 2019. Deregulation (anti-trust, energy grid), climate change (feed, herds, plastic production) and Covid (meat processing plants) impacted current prices Federal Trade Commission based on a round table with farmers and ranchers have requested that Walmart, Kroger, Kraft, and Tyson, among others, hand over information in an investigation into price hikes and food shortages. Since 2016 price fixing by coordination of supply cuts has resulted in legal cases against meat companies:
Legal actions documenting excessive profit taking:
1) Tyson has cost a family of 4 $330/yr more for chicken
2) DOJ has sent to prison for price fixing —-canned tuna (Bumblebee) executives —-10 chicken processing (Pilgrim) executives
3) Corporations (Tyson, JBS) have paid tens of millions to settle private and federal cases.
This inflation is really getting rough, and I hope it gets better soon, but I'm not sure how. Between the booming economy, rising wages causing rising prices (largely a good thing except for the corporate greed), and the war in Ukraine, I don't see it ending too soon.
I just hope that the rising interest rates don't cause a recession.
I'm not going to blame President Biden, because our economy has grown faster than it did during the previous administration and we're finally paying down our deficit for the first time since 2016. I don't know what else Biden can do to fix it, but let's be real: the Republicans don't have an answer, either. They'd just give more handouts to the wealthy and hope that fixes things.
Yeah, I know I should be feeling the effects of inflation but I've not been driving or buying all that much recently. My main concern about this inflation is the fact the press has, for the most part, refused to level with the public about the massive amounts of price-gouging which is driving the rising prices. Look at corporations recent increases in profits and in their distributions and dividends and reports to their investors. They aren't even trying hard to hide it! Yes. There are other contributors like the still active pandemic and supply chain problems and the war in Ukraine. But if you watch TV news you would think that President Biden is raising prices all by himself.
I just nderstand the need to raise prices during hardship. I do NOT understand price gouging. Congress, YOU need to do something.
Despite the dillusional opinions of most on this site, most Americans are fully aware of why we are seeing such high inflation and who exactly is to blame for that. THIS is the Democratic Socialist America. Trump warned us about this and was right about it all. We all are suffering because of the corrupt and compromised Joe Biden, his administration, and the RINOS that allowed them to do this and helped them to do this.
There are too may things to list that the Democrats have done to this country that brings us to the edge of imploding. And frankly, I am tired of listing them. So are my thumbs. I can only pray that we can make it through until November, and the Republicans that take over the House and Senate have found their balls and integrity.
Mitch McConnell DOES NOT need to be our Senate Majority Leader.
Mark Meadows DOES NOT need to be our House Speaker.
If the difficulties in the economy have anything to do with Ukraine I could care less because I feel like I'm doing my part to help out. Stop complaining nobody here is dying unless a republican is killing them in an interaction. Or because they oppose abortion, or because they're loaded up with handguns and they can to kill children at school. And on that note Senator McCarthy should be thrown out of office, he is an absolute liar a sham Disgrace to this country. He is anti-American he is anti-freedom and anti-democratic system. He has to go. For the sake of this country and everyone of his lying elk.
Supply and demand and inflation is one issue, caused by left over Covid speratic production and employment and lack of natural resources. The other issues are man-made. Russia's war on Ukraine have caused a real grain shortage and an additional panic in the world. The shiratage of truckers and farm field workers, partially a result of Abbott in Texas shenanigans. Companies that chose to go for more profits and not hold inventories, JIT, have added to the lack of supply. And let's not forget corporate greed. Greed in several ways, while the jobs numbers are super and folks are getting raises the corporate greedy have decided we can pay more for things not really effected by Covid or Russia. Other greedy corporations are charging patrons additional charges for using a credit card. Toilet paper rolls have been decreased in height while prices have increased, why?
one can never really get ahead...
Being on a pension I have definitely been impacted. However bad it is now it is nothing compared to the 1970's and '80's. Inflation is often the result of policies of the previous administration and not the current. Poor policies like the tax cut for the rich and for corporations have not helped, but hurt. (I say for the rich because I now make less and pay grossly more in taxes.) COVID is another cause and can't be blamed on either president. Prices went up significantly because of COVID and continue to increase. Deficits are also a problem and have been under both Republican and Democrat presidents. Republicans-instead of looking to place blame on the Democrats why don't you come up with some concrete ideas and work with the Democrats. Democrats-quit spending more than we have.
My Representatives need to concentrate on handling the pieces they can help;
1. Over rule the White House Executive Actions that have restricted exploration, transportation and production of Natural gas, and oil (shale) or otherwise.
2. Restore energy pipelines, remove federal obstacles to their creation and use.
3. Stop pumping from the National Petroleum Supply, it is for emergency use not a Biden created problem.
4. Solve the transportation issues related to shipping and distribution of goods. Ports and Trucking regulations, grant truckers and Rail the same tax emption available to Agricultural users.
5. Eliminate the Jones Act.
I can not remember or think of an Administration that took a working economic system with low inflation, real job and wage growth and turned these good things negative so quickly mostly on negative Executive Actions and creation of new regulations all with the support of its party members. If inflation is not turned around quickly, then change the Party in control of the Senate and House of Representatives come November. The problems were created in a year can be solved in less time.
While very few respondents actually addressed the question, let me just say YES. As we enter the summer months when people are more prone to travel, gasoline is up 40-50% depending upon region, lodging is up 20% or more, and food costs whether at the grocer or in the restaurant up another 15-20%. So do you choose to stay home or vacation? In the latter case too many people will simply put it on a credit card feeling they deserve it. The net result is generally greater financial hardship which will only compound the problem. I fully agree with some of the comments that there has been too much consolidation within industries. Some of the largest and oldest businesses in my region have sold out and the buyers aren't local with some even foreign interests. It should concern everyone since it always begins with staff reductions due to duplication and ends with higher prices for the consumer. Meanwhile, home builders tell me they've never made so much money. How is that possible given the stratospheric increases in raw material costs? Supply and demand. We haven't built nearly the number of homes needed since the implosion of the mortgage and building industry of 2008. Why? Because fearful and/or ignorant banks and credit unions have made the choice to sit on the sidelines by not offering builders construction financing to build homes. Instead choosing the safest route possible to protect their bonus plans. This is a hell of a mess requiring thoughtfulness and admission of mistakes by all parties if we're going to exit the situation without a full on recession or worse.
Because I have always had a low income since I am an Educator in Missouri, I have always had to be a careful shopper.
So the groceries that I buy have not gone up in price. And since I am retired, I use very little gasoline. And I use a gas app daily to track where the price per gallon is the lowest.
So much for this will pass quickly and then it is only transitory.
Spend like drunken sailors and this is what you get.
Groceries and gas take everything I have!
Causes asks "Are you feeling the financial pressure of inflation?" ME: Yup, particularly since my income is relatively fixed. Pandemic and now Ukraine war upply chain issues have made the dried food my cats eat scarcer on the shelves and dollars more expensive when I do find it. Their wet food has jumped 40 cents a can since late last year. In terms of human food, beef, fish, and chicken are now beyond the budget (I'm old enough to remember when fish and chicken were cheap protein); produce hasn't risen as sharply, but still ...And, I most definitely can't afford to travel for any kind of vacation. Given the Exceptional to Severe drought (NOAA terms) here (no measurable moisture where I live for months), the vegetable garden I usually plant isn't going to be this year (the water bill alone would kill me), which is just as well since there has also been an astronomical jump in the price of vegetable starts and bedding plants.
It behooves people to remember that this is NOT a GOP/Dem issue. The causes of this inflationary period are many (and I am not a pent-up consumer demander, one of those causes), global in scope, and definitely beyond Biden's (or ANY president's) ability to "fix." While small steps can be, and are being, taken to ameliorate some aspects of this point in tiime, pragmatically and realistically speaking we will just have to hang in there until it has passed.
Prices keep going up and up and up! Is there any stopping of the rich keep getting richer and richer.
But the rate is going down. However,if Republicans take over either house in the Congress, inflation will stay higher than it might otherwise be because the rich business leaders will work with Republicans to keep prices up.
First we were stuck in the house because of COVID - now it's because we can't afford to gas up the auto to go anywhere
And really, Joe - Putin's fault? I've noticed you are really good at blaming and AWFUL at finding solutions- look at this country? What a friggin mess
This is capitalism at its worst, hugh businesses and corporations charging more because there is nothing to stop them. Where are the regulations to stop them? What steps does a company have to take before they raise prices? Are there any? I don't think that they have to do anything to justify price increases.
I don't want to live in a society that is run by businesses/corporations. They are unconcerned with the needs of all the people and their top concern is PROFIT for their share holders. This is the main reason I don't like business people in government.
Unlike the esteemed liars on the Supreme Court corporations are NOT people. What convoluted thinking came up with this false equivalency?
Why can't my lawmakers do something to stop corporate price gouging? Corporations are making record profits while inflating prices and lawmakers do nothing.
Something needs to be done about the price gouging & cost will come down. CEO's are making tons of money from their price gouging.
Help! Gas companies are gauging us, FLAGRANTLY!
it is hard to yell if this is real or manufactured.
Primarily in gas.
Anyone who isn't noticing the effects of inflation is either lying or off the grid. That said, a better and more subtle question would be how much you are feeling those effects. Gratefully, my answer is significantly but not (yet) punishingly. I also believe we are dealing with the worst of it now and the trend will reverse soon.
The Senate just overwhelmingly confirmed Jerome Powell as Fed Chair for another term yesterday, so they must have faith in his plan. Since the Fed is the chief monetary policy body in this country responsible for employment and inflation, the GOP in the Senate must trust him and like his plan.
Those of you who want to hate on Joe Biden, the Fed does more to affect inflation than most of what the administration can do, so why confirm Powell again if it's so bad?
Where is your plan?