Inflation hits 5.4% in the United States

(Washington) A further surge in consumer prices in the United States in September pushed annual inflation to 5.4%, equaling the highest rate in that country since 2008, as global supply problems continue to wreak havoc.

Consumer prices rose 0.4% in September from August as supply chain disruptions made many products scarce. Prices for new cars, food, gas and restaurant meals have all jumped.

The annual increase in the consumer price index for September is identical to the readings for June and July, the highest in 13 years, the Labor Department said on Wednesday.

Excluding the volatile food and energy categories, core inflation stood at 0.2% in September and 4.0% on an annual basis. This core inflation hit a three-decade high of 4.5% in June.

The unexpected explosion in inflation this year reflects significantly higher prices for food and energy, but also new and used cars, hotel rooms, clothing and furniture, among others goods and services.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shut down factories in Asia and slowed down U.S. port operations, leaving container ships anchored at sea and causing consumers and businesses to pay more for goods that fail to arrive. not for months.

“Price increases resulting from persistent supply chain bottlenecks in a context of high demand will keep inflation high, as imbalances between supply and demand are only gradually resolved”, observed Kathy Bostjancic, economist at Oxford Economics, a consulting firm.

“While we share the (US Federal Reserve) view that this is not the start of an upward spiral in wages and prices, we expect inflation to remain above 3.0% steadily until mid-2022. ”

The higher prices also exceed the wage gains that many workers can get from companies, which have to pay more to attract employees. Average hourly wages rose 4.6% in September from a year earlier, a healthy increase, but not enough to keep up with inflation.

Gasoline prices jumped 1.2% last month and are up more than 42% from a year ago. Electricity prices rose 0.8% in September from August.

Supply chain disruptions continue to push up prices for new motor vehicles, which were up 1.3% last month and 8.7% from a year ago, their largest increase on 12 months since 1980. A shortage of semiconductor chips has hampered vehicle production, leaving fewer cars for sale for dealers.

Prices for used vehicles, which soared this summer as Americans scrambled to buy them because they couldn’t find new vehicles, fell for a second consecutive month. Clothing costs also fell, falling 1.1%.

Housing costs, meanwhile, have been rising steadily as builders say they can’t find all the parts and workers they need to build new homes as quickly as they would like.

Rents rose 0.5% in September and a measure of home prices climbed 0.4%. If sustained, these increases will put significant upward pressure on prices, as these two measures represent almost a third of the consumer price index.

Rapid price increases have increased pressure on the Federal Reserve, which has set its benchmark interest rate near zero to stimulate borrowing and spending. Yet inflation is well above its 2.0% target. Central Bank President Jerome Powell has repeatedly asserted that price gains are expected to “weaken” next year, bringing inflation closer to its target.

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