Friday, May 20th, 2022

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Inflation is starting to look like that unexpected — and unwanted — houseguest who just won’t leave.
For months, many economists had sounded a reassuring message that a spike in consumer prices, something that had been missing in action in the U.S. for a generation, wouldn’t stay long. It would prove “transitory,” in the soothing words of Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and White House officials, as the economy shifted from virus-related chaos to something closer to normalcy.
Yet as any American who has bought a carton of milk, a gallon of gas or a used car could tell you, inflation has settled in. And economists are now voicing a more discouraging message: Higher prices will likely last well into next year, if not beyond.
On Wednesday, the government said its consumer price index soared 6.2% from a year ago — the biggest 12-month jump since 1990.
“It’s a large blow against the transitory narrative,” said Jason Furman, who served as the top economic adviser in the Obama administration. “Inflation is not slowing. It’s maintaining a red-hot pace.”
Find out what’s happening in Across America with free, real-time updates from Patch.
And the sticker shock is hitting where families tend to feel it most. At the breakfast table, for instance: Bacon prices are up 20% over the past year, egg prices nearly 12%. Gasoline has surged 50%. Buying a washing machine or a dryer will set you back 15% more than it would have a year ago. Used cars? 26% more.
Although pay is up sharply for many workers, it isn’t nearly enough to keep up with prices. Last month, average hourly wages in the United States, after accounting for inflation, actually fell 1.2% compared with October 2020.
Economists at Wells Fargo joke grimly that the Labor Department’s CPI — the Consumer Price Index — should stand for “Consumer Pain Index.” Unfortunately for consumers, especially lower-wage households, it’s all coinciding with their higher spending needs right before the holiday season.

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