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Inflation Stayed Up in September

U.S. inflation increased in September and is still at its highest point in more than a decade, according to The Wall Street Journal (subscription).

The numbers: The consumer price index rose a seasonally adjusted 0.4% in September from August. On an annual basis, it rose 5.4% in September from a year before (in unadjusted terms).

Why it’s happening: Higher-than-normal consumer demand has been a major inflation driver. Spending increased at a rate of 11.9% in Q2 as the economy reopened following pandemic-related shutdowns and as people received vaccinations.

  • “Rising energy prices—driven by the global recovery in demand, disrupted supply and geopolitical forces—could also keep prices aloft. Consumers are already feeling this directly as gasoline prices now average $3.29 a gallon, the highest level in seven years, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Steeper energy bills could add to the higher costs companies now face, increasing the pressure to pass those on to shoppers.”

The impact: Businesses are contending with supply chain disruptions, worker shortages and pressure to raise employee wages.

  • “Many companies are passing on higher labor and materials costs to consumers. In September, some 46% of small businesses said they planned to raise prices in the next three months, on net, according to the National Federation of Independent Business, a trade association, the most since monthly records began in 1986.”

The NAM weighs in: “Consumer inflation remains a significant challenge, with costs up significantly for everyday Americans,” said NAM Chief Economist Chad Moutray. “In September, that includes sizable gains for food and energy. Over the past 12 months, the consumer price index has jumped 5.1%, the most in nearly 40 years. While price growth is bound to remain highly elevated moving into 2022—and much larger than we have become accustomed to—there are also signs of possible stabilization. For instance, I would expect year-over-year growth in core consumer inflation to be around 2.5% to 2.8% by the end of 2022.”

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