Producer prices rise highest on record, adding to inflation concerns

(The Center Square) – Newly released federal inflation data show another record increase, the latest in a string of inflation numbers that have Americans concerned.

The Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics released pricing data Thursday showing the producer price index rose 0.2% in December, yet another month of increase after a year of aggressive price hikes.

“This rise followed advances of 1.0 percent in November and 0.6 percent in October,” BLS said. “On an unadjusted basis, final demand prices moved up 9.7 percent in 2021, the largest calendar-year increase since data were first calculated in 2010.”

The increase in prices affected a broad swath of industries.

“Over a quarter of the December increase in the index for final demand services can be attributed to margins for fuels and lubricants retailing, which rose 13.0 percent,” BLS said. “The indexes for airline passenger services, food retailing, machinery and vehicle wholesaling, machinery and equipment parts and supplies wholesaling, and traveler accommodation services also moved higher. In contrast, margins for automobile and automobile parts retailing decreased 2.7 percent. The indexes for deposit services (partial) and for health, beauty, and optical goods retailing also declined.”

The data come just one day after BLS released a different inflation marker, the consumer price index. BLS released new inflation figures Wednesday showing consumer prices have risen at the fastest rate since 1982.

“The all items index rose 7.0 percent for the 12 months ending December, the largest 12-month increase since the period ending June 1982," BLS said. "The all items less food and energy index rose 5.5 percent, the largest 12-month change since the period ending February 1991. The energy index rose 29.3 percent over the last year, and the food index increased 6.3 percent.”

As with the producer price index, consumer price data showed that Americans are feeling the pinch of higher prices across a range of goods and services.

“This was the sixth time in the last 9 months it has increased at least 0.5 percent,” BLS said. “Along with the indexes for shelter and for used cars and trucks, the indexes for household furnishings and operations, apparel, new vehicles, and medical care all increased in December. As in November, the indexes for motor vehicle insurance and recreation were among the few to decline over the month.”

Those poor inflation numbers have driven President Joe Biden’s job approval rating downward with the latest Quinnipiac poll reporting his approval is at 33%. On the economy, Quinnipiac found that 34% of those surveyed approve of Biden’s work while 57% disapprove.

“Americans give President Joe Biden a negative 33–53 percent job approval rating, while 13 percent did not offer an opinion,” Quinnipiac said. “In November 2021, Americans gave Biden a negative 36–53 percent job approval rating with 10 percent not offering an opinion.”

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