Inflation rises 7% over the past year, the highest since 1982

  • The consumer price index, a metric that measures costs across dozens of items, increased 7% in 2021, according to the department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. On a monthly basis, CPI rose 0.5%. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been expecting the gauge to increase 7% on an annual basis and 0.4% from November. The annual move was the fastest increase since June 1982 and comes amid a shortage of goods and workers and on the heels of unprecedented cash flowing through the U.S. economy from Congress and the Federal Reserve. 
  • Excluding food and energy prices, core CPI increased 5.5% year over year and 0.6% from the previous month. That compared with estimates of 5.4% and 0.5% respectively. The growth in core inflation was the largest annual growth since February 1991. 
  • Shelter costs, which make up nearly one-third of the total rose 0.4% for the month and 4.1% for the year. That was the fastest pace since February 2007. Used vehicle prices, which have been a major component of the inflation increase during the COVID pandemic due to supply chain constraints that have limited new vehicle production, rose another 3.5% in December, bringing the increase from a year ago to 37.3%. 
  • Conversely, energy prices mostly declined for the month, falling 0.4% as fuel oil was down 2.4% and gasoline fell 0.5%. Still, the complex as a whole rose 29.3% in the 12 months, including a gain of 49.6% for gasoline. 
  • Fed officials are watching the inflation data closely and are widely expected to raise interest rates this year to combat increasing prices and as the jobs picture approaches full employment. Though the central bank uses the personal consumption expenditures price index as its primary inflation measure, policymakers take in a wide range of information in making decisions.

(Source: CNBC News)