US Inflation Gauge CPI Up Most In Nearly A Decade In March - Labor Dept

WASHINGTON (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 13th April, 2021) The US consumer prices index (CPI), the key gauge for inflation, rose 0.6 percent in March in its highest growth in nearly a decade as the cost of fuel, rent and food surged, the Labor Department announced on Tuesday.

"The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers increased 0.6 percent in March on a seasonally adjusted basis after rising 0.4 percent in February," the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a unit of the Labor Department said. "The March one-month increase was the largest rise since a 0.6-percent increase in August 2012."

Creeping inflation has been a concern for economists amid rapid US economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

White House officials, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen have, however, played down the increasing price as transitory due to an economy breaking out from a year of COVID-19 lockdowns and facing bottlenecks along the way in supply chains.

Economists polled by US media had expected a higher CPI reading of 0.5 percent for March.

Gasoline prices surged 9.1 percent in March and accounted for about half the overall CPI increase. The US pump price of gasoline itself is up more than 22 percent from one year ago.

The index for rent as well as the reading for owners' equivalent rent both rose 0.2 percent, pushing up the overall shelter index by 0.3 percent. The motor vehicle insurance index increased for the third consecutive month, rising 3.3 percent.

Food prices were nudged higher as well, up 0.1 percent for the month and 3.5 percent for the year. The food at home category increased by 3.3 percent. All six of the government's measures of grocery store indexes rose, with the biggest gain of 5.4 percent in the category of meats, poultry, fish and eggs.

Food away from home increased 3.7 percent, while "limited services meals," which include pick-up, take out and delivery restaurants, jumped 6.5 percent for the year, the largest annual increase in the survey's history dating to 1997.