The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 8.5 percent in March compared to last year, the highest level since 1981.

That level outpaces February’s rate of 7.9 percent and is largely driven by surging prices for fuel.

According to the CPI, which is a measure of the prices consumers are paying for finished goods, fuel oil rose at 70.6 percent year over year, gasoline was up 48 percent, used cars were up 35.3 percent, hotel rooms up 29 percent, utility gas service was 21.6 percent, and oranges were 16.2 percent up from a year ago.

Chicken rose 13.4 percent, about in line with milk, infants’ clothing, and delivery services.

February’s 7.9 percent number did not take into account the sharp rise in gas prices since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began at the end of the month, as it only takes into account February data. Thus, inflation has accelerated month over month only 0.6 percent since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, mostly driven by energy prices climbing 11 percent from February to March.

Prices for groceries, meanwhile, only rose 1.5 percent since February.

The core price index, which is the CPI excluding often-volatile categories like food and energy, still increased 6.5 percent in March compared to a year earlier. That’s the sharpest increase in the CPI minus food and energy since August 1982.

Meanwhile, the Producer Price Index (PPI), which reflects what suppliers are charging businesses and other customers and is generally considered the core metric of input price changes, is up 11.2 percent in March compared to last year. That’s an increase of nearly a percentage point from February’s PPI data.

March was the fourth consecutive month of double digit PPI increases and was the highest since recordkeeping began in 2010.

 

 

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