PROMO 64J1 Finance - Inflation Graph Chart Increase Rise Percent - iStock - G0d4ather

Consumer prices rise 8.5 percent, highest in 40 years

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Casey Harper | The Center Square

(The Center Square) – Newly released federal inflation data show that prices continue to rise at the fastest rate in four decades, continuing the trend of soaring inflation.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its Consumer Price Index, a key indicator of inflation, which showed prices rose an additional 1.2 percent in March, part of an 8.5 percent spike in the past 12 months.

“Increases in the indexes for gasoline, shelter, and food were the largest contributors to the seasonally adjusted all items increase,” BLS said. “The gasoline index rose 18.3 percent in March and accounted for over half of the all items monthly increase; other energy component indexes also increased. The food index rose 1.0 percent and the food at home index rose 1.5 percent.”

Energy prices have been the biggest contributor. Americans have seen gas prices rise significantly over the past year. According to AAA, the average national gas price is $4.10, up from $2.86 the same time last year.

“The all items index continued to accelerate, rising 8.5 percent for the 12 months ending March, the largest 12-month increase since the period ending December 1981. The all items less food and energy index rose 6.5 percent, the largest 12-month change since the period ending August 1982. The energy index rose 32.0 percent over the last year, and the food index increased 8.8 percent, the largest 12-month increase since the period ending May 1981.”

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki preempted the report Monday, saying they expected inflation to be “extraordinarily elevated” but blamed it on “Putin’s price hike.”

The Biden administration has consistently blamed Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, but critics point out inflation and gas prices have been rising since Biden took office, well before the February invasion. They point to excess federal spending. 

“Under the Biden administration, the American people have become demonstrably poorer," said EJ Antoni, an economic expert at the Heritage Foundation. "The dramatic rise in prices that we’re seeing means that American families can't buy as much today as they could just 14 months ago. Prices have surged so rapidly that real earnings – earnings adjusted for price changes – have dropped 4.5 percent on Biden’s watch.

"While COVID lockdowns and reckless government spending have caused significant economic harm, the Federal Reserve has also been asleep at the wheel by enabling the federal government’s spending spree with its money-printing policies," he added.

Antoni called the rising prices a "hidden tax" on Americans fueled by federal policies.

“Meanwhile, Americans are losing savings and purchasing power from the ‘hidden’ tax of inflation," he said. "If President Biden and others are serious about helping working Americans, they need to take responsibility for the mess they created, cut government spending, and end the regulatory war on American energy production.”