After a disastrous December, inflation recorded yet another 40 year high in January.
The Details: A new Labor Department report released Thursday shows consumer price index rose 7.5% in January from a year ago. The CPI, which measures consumers goods ranging from gasoline to grocery to rent, increased 0.6% in the one-month period since December. Those figures are slightly higher than economist expectations.
“U.S. annual CPI is the highest since 1982, and what’s worse is that this likely isn’t the peak,” said Seema Shah, chief strategist at Principal Global Investors. “Higher-than-expected monthly gains in core CPI indicate continued underlying heat and will do nothing to relieve pressure on the Fed to tighten sharply and urgently.”
Though many Americans saw strong wage gains in the past few months, inflation has diminished them entirely. Real average hourly earnings rose just 0.1% in January from the previous month, as the 0.6% inflation increase eroded the 0.7% total wage gain, according to the Labor Department. On an annual basis, real earnings actually declined 1.7% in January.
Soaring inflation could pressure the Federal Reserve to increase rates next month with an initial half-point raise instead of a quarter-point.