While the annual pace of inflation in the United States eased slightly in July, a deeper dive into the numbers reveals that some of the categories that hit everyday Americans especially hard in the pocketbook have soared, with the price of groceries jumping to the highest level since 1979.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported on Aug. 10 that the headline pace of inflation, as reflected in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) ticked down from a recent peak of 9.1 percent in June to 8.5 percent in July.
The month-over-month CPI inflation figure came in at 0 percent, meaning the overall pace of price growth stayed flat between June and July, prompting President Joe Biden to take a victory lap saying that the “economy had zero percent inflation in the month of July.”
Republicans and some economists objected to the White House messaging on “zero” inflation by arguing that Biden was cherry picking the data by focusing on the 0 percent month-over-month pace of growth, while overlooking that the year-over-year rate of inflation—which tends to be the more commonly reported figure—remained at an eye-watering 8.5 percent.
“It’s a bogus math trick. This is the overall one-month index change. Overall that means that the big drop in fuel oil and gas (following previous massive monthly increases) swamped the huge increases everywhere else,” wrote Jeffrey Tucker, president of the Brownstone Institute think tank and columnist for The Epoch Times.
But while the annual 8.5 percent pace of inflation was, indeed, a slowdown from the prior month, several categories the BLS uses to calculate the price index soared, with one key gauge hitting a multi-decade high.
The food-at-home index, which represents food purchased in places like grocery stores for consumption at home, jumped by an annual 13.1 percent, which is the fastest pace since March 1979.
“Consumers are getting a break at the gas pump, but not at the grocery store,” Bankrate Chief Financial Analyst Greg McBride told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement. “Food prices, and especially costs for food at home, continue to soar, rising at the fastest pace in more than 43 years.”
By Tom Ozimek