Consumer price index surges 6.2% in October, worse than expected and the highest since December 1990

Inflation across a broad swath of products that consumers buy every day was even worse than expected in October, hitting its highest point in more than 30 years, the Labor Department reported Wednesday.

The consumer price index, which is a basket of products ranging from gasoline and health care to groceries and rents, rose 6.2% from a year ago. That compared to the 5.9% Dow Jones estimate.

On a monthly basis, the CPI increased 0.9% against the 0.6% estimate.

Stripping out volatile food and energy prices, so-called core CPI was up 0.6% against the estimate of 0.4%. Annual core inflation ran at a 6.2% pace, compared to the 4% expectation and the highest since November 1990.

Fuel oil prices soared 12.3% for the month, part of a 59.1% increase over the past year. Energy prices overall rose 4.8% in October and are up 30% for the 12-month period.

Used vehicle prices again were a big contributor, rising 2.5% on the month and 26.4% for the year. New vehicle prices were up 1.4% and 9.8% respectively.

Food prices also showed a sizeable bounce, up 0.9% and 5.4% respectively. Within the food category, meat, poultry, fish and eggs collectively rose 1.7% for the month and 11.9% year over year.

The price increases meant that workers fell further behind.

In a separate report, the Labor Department said real wages after inflation fell 0.5% from September to October, the product of a 0.4% increase in average hourly earnings that was more than offset by the CPI surge.

Shelter costs, which make up one-third of the CPI computation, increased 0.5% for the month and are now up 3.5% on a year-over-year basis, pointing to more reasons for concern that inflation could be more persistent than policymakers anticipate. The annual pace is the highest since September 2019.

The data comes as policymakers such as Fed Chairman Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen maintain that the current price pressures are temporary and related to pandemic-specific issues. While they have conceded that inflation has been more persistent than they expected, they see conditions returning to normal over the next year or so.

This is breaking news. Please check back here for updates.



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