Consumer prices rose 8.5% through March, marking the fastest inflation increase since 1981.
The New York Times reported that the “stubbornly rapid price increases have been exacerbated by a surge in gas costs tied to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” with the average price for a gallon of gas in the U.S. peaking at $4.33 on March 11.
However, as the Times noted, “gas is not the entire story.”
Without accounting for the volatility of fuel and food, core prices rose 6.5% in the year through March, which is up from 6.4% in the year through February.
Citing data from the Consumer Price Index, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that energy costs increased an average of 32%, with energy commodities (crude oil, ethanol, electricity, etc.) increasing by 48.3% and energy services by 13.5%.
Food has increased by an average of 8%, with groceries increasing by 10% and “food away from home” by 6.9%.
Clothing has increased 6.8%, new vehicles set a historic record with a 12.5% increase, used cars and trucks are up just over 35%, “medical care commodities” have increased in price by 2.7%, and medical services have increased 2.9%.
The cost of housing increased 5%.
Prominent conservative figures were quick to comment on the numbers. Florida’s popular Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, took aim at President Joe Biden’s energy policy and the federal government’s spending habits.
DeSantis said, “Inflation is at a 40-year high of 8.5% due to federal policies of borrowing and printing money at unfathomable levels and bad energy policy, which is hurting Floridians. Biden could unleash domestic energy production to provide relief. Instead, he is content watching people suffer.”
Podcast host and pundit Jack Posobiec said that the “White House wants to blame inflation on the Russia-Ukraine war in Eastern Europe but the US itself went to war in Iraq and Afghanistan and more and we didn’t see inflation like this from it.”
Robert Sprague, the current Republican treasurer for the state of Ohio, said, “Inflation isn’t just hurting consumers. It’s hurting our businesses, and it’s leading to shortages, delays, and spikes in prices.”
Gregory Daco, the chief economist at Ernst & Young’s strategy consultancy EY-Parthenon, told the Times that “these numbers are likely to represent something of a peak” in inflation as consumers begin to stop purchasing goods in response to higher prices.