Inflation in the United States has risen over the past year at a rate not seen in four decades, the Labor Department said on Wednesday — underscoring one of Americans’ chief economic concerns in the COVID-19 era.

The department said in its Consumer Prices Index that inflation was up 7% year-to-year in December. That’s the fastest one-year increase since 1982. Energy prices rose 29.3% and food prices were up 6.3% in the same period.

From November to December, inflation rose by a half-percent, the report said.

“Increases in the indexes for shelter and for used cars and trucks were the largest contributors,” the report states.

“The food index also contributed, although it increased less than in recent months, rising 0.5% in December. The energy index declined in December, ending a long series of increases; it fell 0.4% as the indexes for gasoline and natural gas both decreased.”

When excluding food and energy prices, inflation was up 5.5% for the 12 months ending in December — the quickest rate since 1991.

Prices for everything from clothing and new vehicles to medical care and furnishings also increased last month, the department said.

Wells Fargo senior analyst Sarah House told The Wall Street Journal the “blistering pace of inflation” is driven by scarcity in the economy combined with the willingness and capacity to pay more for goods, services and labor.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told Congress on Tuesday that supply chain issues should recede this year and help bring inflation down.

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