U.S Inflation climbed to 8.5% in March, Highest Rate since 1981

U.S. consumer price increases quickened in March, underscoring ongoing inflation pressures as supply chain disruptions and shortages lingered across the economy.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 8.5% in March compared to the same month last year, according to the latest report released Tuesday. That marked the fastest rise since December 1981. This followed a 7.9% annual increase in February. According to Bloomberg data, heading the report, consensus economists were looking for an 8.4% jump for March.

On a month-over-month basis, prices rose 1.2% in March following a 0.8% monthly rise in February.

Some of the biggest contributors to the latest increase in inflation were food, shelter and gasoline, according to the BLS. In fact, the index tracking gas prices surged to rise 18.3% month-on-month in March, comprising more than half of the total monthly increase in CPI. In February, gasoline had posted a 6.6% monthly increase.

However, despite the more volatile food and energy prices, the CPI also posted a marked move higher in March. The core CPI jumped 6.5% in March over last year, accelerating from a 6.4% increase in February and representing the fastest increase since August 1982.

A number of other major categories also contributed to the March increase in CPI, however. Shelter prices rose 0.5% month-on-month in March and by 5.0% over last year, representing the biggest annual rise since May 1991. Airline fares also soared by 10.7% on a monthly basis and by nearly 24% over last year, as rising fuel costs and increased demand for travel pushed ticket prices still higher.

Economists have however expressed hope that the CPI will reduce in the coming months with Andrew Hunter, senior US economist at Capital Economics saying energy prices would come down in the months ahead as there were signs that price pressures appear to be moderating.

Read also; Kenya Shilling Drops Further to 115 Against the U.S Dollar.

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