New York (CNN Business)Pandemic price hikes didn’t let up in the last month of 2021: A key inflation gauge hit a fresh a 39-year high.
The US consumer price inflation index rose 7% over the past year before seasonal adjustments, the steepest climb in prices since June 1982, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Wednesday.
It was also a faster rate of increase than November’s 6.8%, and higher than economists had predicted.
Stripping out food and energy costs, which tend to be more volatile even in non-pandemic times, inflation rose to 5.5% between December 2020 and December 2021 — the biggest annual jump since February 1991. That was a much faster pace than in November, when core inflation stood at 4.9%.
Separately, the food price index climbed 6.3%, while grocery prices rose even more: 6.5% last year. The energy cost index rose 29.3% over the past year.
But even though prices went through the roof last year, they are still nowhere near the historic highs from the 1980s. Inflation peaked in the spring of 1980 at 14.8% without seasonal adjustments, 14.6% with adjustments.
For the month of December alone, prices rose 0.5%, adjusted for seasonal swings. It was slightly more than economists had forecast but a decrease from the 0.8% monthly increase in November.
What got more expensive?
Price trackers for housing as well as used cars and trucks were the biggest contributors to the December price hikes.
Food costs also went up — rising 0.5% — but at a slightly slower pace than in recent months. Prices rose in nearly all major grocery categories, with fruit and vegetable prices rising the most.
Energy costs declined by 0.4%, marking the first monthly decline since April 2021. But the decrease is unlikely to last into 2022.
“Unfortunately, energy prices have rebounded into January after a temporary Omicron-hit in December,” said Action Economics chief economist Mike Englund. He also expects that 12-month inflation data will continue to trend higher until at least February, data for which will be released in March.
This is a developing story. It will be updated
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