ABC News: “Inflation surged higher in March, reversing some progress made in cooling prices”

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Consumer prices surged by 3.5% in March compared to a year earlier, accelerating sharply from the previous month and dealing a blow to efforts to rein in inflation, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

While economists had anticipated this uptick, it marks a setback in the battle against inflation, which had shown signs of cooling after reaching a peak of around 9%. Despite the slowdown, inflation remains stubbornly above the Federal Reserve’s target rate of 2%, posing challenges for policymakers.

Rising housing and gasoline prices, coupled with robust economic activity, have fueled the persistence of elevated inflation levels. The latest data reflects a notable increase from February’s annual inflation rate of 3.2%.

Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, held steady at 3.8% over the year ending in March, indicating sustained pressure on prices. Notably, over half of the monthly rise in consumer prices can be attributed to increases in gasoline and housing costs, according to the BLS.

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However, there were some bright spots for consumers, with prices of certain grocery staples declining over the same period. Breakfast cereal, rice, and pasta saw declines of more than a percentage point, offering some relief to households grappling with rising prices elsewhere.

Nevertheless, the broader trend is concerning, with inflation showing no signs of abating. Shockingly, inflation has not seen a monthly decline since January 2021, leading to a staggering 19% increase in overall prices in less than four years. This persistent upward trajectory has contributed to 36 consecutive months of year-over-year inflation above 3% and 37 months above the Fed’s target of 2%.

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With inflation now compounding on previous years’ increases, the challenge for policymakers is clear: finding effective measures to curb inflationary pressures while sustaining economic growth and stability.

Sources:

abcnews.go.com/Business/inflation-expected-surged-higher-march/story?id=109032019

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