Inflation continued to rise in April, compounding a climb that has pushed American consumers to the edge and is threatening America’s growth projections, statistics released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed Wednesday.
The consumer price index (CPI), which is a measure of the prices of goods and services, increased 8.3% from last year, higher than the Dow Jones estimate for an 8.1% gain. The figure, while alarming, is a slight ease from March's peak, but remains close to the highest level in 40 years since 1982.
As detailed by CNBC, even the core CPI (which removes volatile food and energy prices) rose by 6.2% against Wall Street expectations of a flat 6% gain, dimming hopes that the rate of inflation peaked in March.
The Department of Labor reported that prices were up by 0.3% in April compared with March, making it the eleventh straight month of inflation above 5%. In March, prices rose at an annual rate of 8.5%, which was the first month since September 2021 when the year-over-year inflation figure was not higher than the month prior.
The price gains also meant that workers continued to lose ground. Real wages adjusted for inflation decreased 0.1% on the month despite a nominal increase of 0.3% in average hourly earnings. Over the past year, real earnings have dropped 2.6% even though average hourly earnings are up 5.5%.
Inflation has been the single biggest threat to a recovery that began early in the Covid pandemic and saw the economy in 2021 stage its biggest single-year growth level since 1984. Rising prices at the pump and in grocery stores have been one problem, but inflation has spread beyond those two areas into housing, auto sales and a host of other areas.
April also saw big price increases across selected food areas. Chicken was up 3.4% and eggs surged 10.3% amid a bird flu scare, while bacon rose 2.5% and breakfast cereal was up 2.4% Ham prices fell 1.8%.
“I want every American to know that I'm taking inflation very seriously,” Biden said in remarks from the White House on Tuesday ahead of the report. “It's my top domestic priority.”
“Families all across America are hurting because of inflation,” the president said. “I understand what it feels like. I come from a family where if the price of gas or food went up, we felt it.”
During his speech, Biden highlighted his administration’s efforts to reduce the price spike, including releasing 180 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Oil Reserve, and called on oil companies to reduce prices and for automotive and tech industries to bring supply chains back to the United States — while offering little concrete incentive for them to do so.
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