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'Devastating': Inflation Worsened in March, Hits Highest Rate in Over Four Decades

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Inflation rose to 8.5% in March as gas and food prices continued to climb in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

According to the Labor Department, the consumer price index (CPI) — a measure of the price of goods and services — rose at its fastest pace in March since Dec. 1981.

March is the sixth consecutive month inflation was above 6%.

The core price index, which does not include food or energy prices, rose 6.5% in March, up from 6.4% in February.

That was the largest annual increase since Aug. 1982.

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Inflation rose 1.2% in March compared to February, marking the quickest one-month increase since 2005.

Heather Long, a columnist focused on the economy for The Washington Post, noted, “There’s hope that March will be the peak, [especially] if gas prices don’t jump again.”

“But services inflation is also picking up,” she added.

Do you think March will be the peak for inflation?

Long noted that increased gas prices accounted for half of inflation in March.

Food and rent costs also contributed to the price increases last month.

Additionally, she shared data on the annual price increases.

Compared to Mar. 2021, gas prices are up 48%, used cars are up 35%, utility gas is up 22%, bacon is up 18%, beef is up 16%, appliances are up 12%, coffee is up 11%, and rent prices are up 4.5%.

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White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday that officials “expect March CPI headline inflation to be extraordinarily elevated due to Putin’s price hike.”

“We expect a large difference between core and headline inflation reflecting the global disruptions in energy and food markets,” she continued.

According to AAA, the national average for a gallon of gas is $4.09, which is down from $4.32 last month.

Gas prices surged after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, and the Biden administration has sought to blame Russian President Vladimir Putin for price increases.

However, Steven Rattner, an economic adviser for former President Barack Obama, pointed out in a tweet in February that inflation was already elevated before Russia launched its invasion.

Additionally, while gas prices contributed in large part to inflation in March, Neil Irwin, the chief economic correspondent for Axios, raised concerns that there may be a “broadening of underlying inflation.”

He tweeted, “Most worrying thing in the CPI report: Services excluding energy services up 0.6%, and has accelerated each of the last three months.”

“Even if durable goods and energy prices stabilize, that suggests real broadening of underlying inflation,” he added.

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), the ranking member on the House Ways and Means Committee, said in a statement about the latest inflation report, “Inflation is raging and getting worse. Workers and families are taking another big pay cut, with $5,700 in lost wages on average thanks to President Biden’s failed leadership. More and more Americans feel financially worse off today than at the height of the Covid pandemic.”

“For President Biden, who mistakenly denied record-high inflation and later denied the crippling worker shortage, what does it take beyond today’s devastating inflation report to admit America is in a wage-price spiral that is worsening each month? Denial, as we’ve learned under this administration, is not an economic strategy,” he added.

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