US annual consumer inflation posts largest increase since 1981

US annual consumer prices jumped 9.1% in June, the largest increase in more than four decades, leaving Americans to dig deeper to pay for gasoline, food, healthcare and rents, and the Federal Reserve most certain to hike interest rates by another 75 basis points at the end of the month.

The bigger-than-expected rise in the year-on-year consumer price index reported by the Labor Department on Wednesday also reflected higher prices for a range of other goods and services, including motor vehicles, apparel and household furniture. The CPI increased by the most in nearly 17 years on a monthly basis, Reuters reports.

The inflation data followed stronger-than-expected job growth in June and suggested that the US central bank’s aggressive monetary policy stance had made little progress thus far in cooling demand and bringing inflation down to its 2% target. With rents surging by the most in 36 years, inflation could become entrenched.

Though a global problem, stubbornly high inflation is a political risk for U.S. President Joe Biden and his Democratic Party heading into congressional elections in November.

“Despite the Fed’s best intentions, the economy looks to be moving into a higher inflation regime,” said Christopher Rupkey, chief economist at FWDBONDS in New York. “The Fed is even further behind the curve after today’s sizzling report.”

The consumer price index increased 1.3% last month, the biggest monthly gain since September 2005, after advancing 1.0% in May. A 7.5% surge in energy prices accounted for nearly half of the increase in the CPI. Gasoline prices jumped 11.2% after rebounding by 4.1% in May. Prices at the pump have since declined considerably from June’s record highs.

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