February inflation numbers grew worse for the United States. According to a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics., inflation surged to 7.9% over the past 12 months. This means that prices for many goods and services hit fresh 40-year highs.
February Inflation Rate Shows Fastest Pace Since January 1982
The BLS report noted that the February inflation rate recorded its fastest pace since January 1982. Back then, the United States had to contend with higher inflation amid reduced economic growth.
Economists pointed to the brewing crisis in Ukraine back then and entrenched price pressures. grew worse in February amid the escalating crisis in Ukraine and price pressures that became more entrenched.
As a result, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) hit 7.9% over the last twelve months. On a per-month basis, CPI gained 0.8%. Economists expected February inflation numbers at 7.8% for the year and 0.7% for the month.
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Food and Energy Prices Rose Again
Meanwhile, food prices rose 1% while food at home jumped 1.4%. These numbers represented the fastest monthly gains since April 2020, when the pandemic started.
Energy also contributed largely to ballooning February inflation numbers. Fuel and heating prices surged by 3.5% in February.
In fact, fuel accounted for about a third of February inflation gains. In addition, shelter costs gained another 0.5% for the month. This led to a 12-month increase of 4.7%, which is the fastest rate since May 1991.
If we remove volatile food and energy costs, the core inflation rate remains high at 6.4%. However, the number is more in line with estimates but remains the highest since August 1982. On a per-month basis, core CPI rose by 0.5%, which is also consistent with economists’ forecasts.
Continued Rise in Inflation Rates Mean Lesser Paychecks
The continued rise in inflation rates meant that worker paychecks continue to lose value. Without inflation, many workers would enjoy the pay increases they received over the past year.
Average hourly earnings adjusted for inflation fell 0.8% in February. This means that over the past year, earnings are now 2,6% lower.
This is despite the fact that average paychecks increased by 5.1% from last year. This shows how bad inflation is and how high prices rose.
Mike Loewengart, managing director of investment strategy for E-Trade, said inflation continues as expected. “Inflation is coming in hot but the reality is there are no real surprises in this report.
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The market likely already priced the inflation increase accordingly,” he said. Now, everybody is focused on Ukraine and its impact on everyday prices.
Supply Chain Issues Remain
The inflation surge remains in step with price gains in 2021. Last year, the government flooded the market with stimulus money even as supply chain disruptions limited the availability of goods. This led to demand outstripping supply, especially for goods.
Now, the Federal Reserve expects inflation to ease down as supply chain issues resolve themselves. While some disruptions abated, the pressure remains high.
For example, brand new vehicles remain high as prices rose 0.3% for the month and 12.4% over the year. However, used-car and truck prices declined 0.2% last month.
This is its first negative showing since September 2021. Used vehicle prices remain up by 41.2% over the year.
Watch the Bloomberg Markets & Finance video reporting U.S. inflation climbs to a 40-Year high at 7.9% in February:
What do you think about February inflation rates? Do you foresee any relief for Americans from inflation in the next few months?
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