the federal government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released new price inflation data today, and according to the report, price inflation during the month decelerated slightly, coming in at the lowest year-over-year increase in eighteen months. According to the BLS, Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation rose 6.0 percent year over year in February before seasonal adjustment. That’s down from January’s year-over-year increase of 6.4 percent, and February is the twenty-fourth month in a row with inflation above the Fed’s arbitrary 2 percent inflation target. Price inflation has now been above 6 percent for seventeen months in a row.
Meanwhile, month-over-month inflation rose 0.4 percent (seasonally adjusted) from to January to February. That’s down from January’s month-over-month gain of 0.5 percent, which had been a six-month high.
January’s year-over-year growth rate is down from June’s high of 9.1 percent, which was the highest price inflation rate since 1981. But February’s growth rate still keeps price inflation above growth rates seen in any month during the past thirty years. February’s increase was the nineteenth-largest increase in forty years.
The ongoing price increases largely reflect price growth in food, energy, and especially shelter. In other words, the prices of essentials all saw big increases in February.
For example, in February “food at home”—i.e., grocery bills—was up 10.2 percent compared to February of the previous year. Energy services were up 13.3 percent, while new vehicles were up 5.8 percent. The largest decrease, by far, was found in used cars and trucks which fell 13.6 percent over the period. This hardly returned car prices to 2019 levels, however. Used car price growth reached seventy-year highs throughout much of 2021, increasing year over year by over 20 percent or more in every month from April 2021 to April 2022.
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