(The Center Square) – Prices continued to soar in September, newly released federal inflation data shows, as Americans struggle to afford rising food and other consumer prices.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released its consumer price index data Thursday, which showed consumer prices rose 0.4% in September, contributing to an 8.2% increase in the previous 12 months.
“Increases in the shelter, food, and medical care indexes were the largest of many contributors to the monthly seasonally adjusted all items increase,” BLS said. “These increases were partly offset by a 4.9-percent decline in the gasoline index. The food index continued to rise, increasing 0.8 percent over the month as the food at home index rose 0.7 percent. The energy index fell 2.1 percent over the month as the gasoline index declined, but the natural gas and electricity indexes increased.”
In recent weeks, the national average gas price for unleaded gas has inched back up, approaching $4 per gallon. If that increase continues, it may lead to notably higher inflation data for October.
“The indexes for shelter, medical care, motor vehicle insurance, new vehicles, household furnishings and operations, and education were among those that increased over the month,” BLS said. “There were some indexes that declined in September, including those for used cars and trucks, apparel, and communication.”
Food prices in particular have soared in the last year.
“The food at home index rose 13.0 percent over the last 12 months,” BLS said. “The index for cereals and bakery products increased 16.2 percent over the year and the index for dairy and related products rose 15.9 percent. The remaining major grocery store food groups posted increases ranging from 9.0 percent (meats, poultry, fish, and eggs) to 15.7 percent (other food at home).”
This data came after BLS released producer pricing data Wednesday showing the same 0.4% increase for producer prices, more than expected, which is part of an 8.5% increase in the previous 12 months.
“Over a quarter of the September increase in the index for final demand services can be traced to a 6.4-percent advance in prices for traveler accommodation services,” BLS said in its producer price data release. “The indexes for food and alcohol retailing, portfolio management, machinery and vehicle wholesaling, oil and gas well drilling services, and hospital inpatient care also rose. In contrast, prices for long-distance motor carrying fell 0.4 percent.”
These costs are making it hard for Americans to make ends meet and putting extra pressure on small businesses.
As The Center Square previously reported, the National Federation of Independent Business released a survey reporting that 30% of small business owners cited inflation as the single-most important problem in operating their business.
“Inflation and worker shortages continue to be the hardest challenges facing small business owners,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg.