Inflation Surges at 13-year High Amid Global Supply Chain Chaos

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U.S. consumer prices in September accelerated at their fastest annual rate in 13 years amid a spike in energy prices and supply chain disruptions, according to figures released by the Department of Labor on Wednesday.

Data released by the agency shows the consumer price index, which measures what consumers pay for goods and services and serves as a key tracker of inflation, rose about 0.4 percent in September from August, coming after it rose 0.3 percent in August from July.

Over the past 12 months, prices increased 5.4 percent before seasonal adjustment, matching the largest year-over-year gain since 2008.

The indexes for food and shelter increase in September, contributing more than half of the “monthly all items seasonally adjusted increase,” said (pdf) the Labor Department. Last month, the index for food rose 0.9 percent, the index for food at home rose 1.2 percent, the energy index increased 1.3 percent, and the gasoline index rose 1.2 percent, according to the agency.

“The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.2 percent in September, after increasing 0.1 percent in August,” the department’s report said. “Along with the index for shelter, the indexes for new vehicles, household furnishings and operations, and motor vehicle insurance also rose in September. The indexes for airline fares, apparel, and used cars and trucks all declined over the month.”

Shortages in labor and materials coupled with shipping and supply chain challenges have driven up the costs for producers, and many of those firms have passed along those costs to consumers. That’s led to inflationary pressures that have lasted longer than some analysts, including Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, had predicted.

By Jack Phillips

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