Inflation hits 7.5 percent in January

This month’s Consumer Price Index report showed the largest inflation increase in four decades.

Inflation reached a 40-year high last month as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to hammer the American economy.

According to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) Summary, the seasonally adjusted index for all urban consumers rose 0.6 percent in January and inflation rose 7.5 percent for the 12-month period ending in January before seasonal adjustment. This is the largest 12-month all items index increase since 1982.

The food index saw a 0.9 percent increase in January, nearly doubling the 0.5 percent increase the month prior. Meanwhile, the energy index also saw a 0.9 percent rise in January with an increase in the electricity index being offset by decreases in the gasoline and natural gas indexes, the summary says.

The cost of medical care also rose 0.7 percent in January with the index for hospital services seeing a 0.5 percent increase and the index for prescription drug prices rose 1.3 percent. The index for physician services saw a 0.1 percent decrease over the past month, according to the summary.

The food index saw a 0.9 percent increase in January, with the food at home index rising 1 percent over the month after a 0.4 percent rise in December. Last month five of the six major grocery store food group indexes increased with the index for cereals and bakery items increasing the most at 1.6 percent in January. The index for nonalcoholic drinks remained unchanged, the summary says.

The index for new vehicles saw no change, but used cars and trucks rose 40.5 percent. Meanwhile the shelter index rose 4.4 percent, and the index for lodging away from home fell 3.9 percent, according to the summary.

In a statement, President Joe R. Biden, facing pressure from Republicans to get a handle on inflation, touted the nation’s jobs increases during his tenure and vowed his administration would continue working to right the economic ship.

“My administration will continue to be all hands on deck to win this fight,” he said. “We will continue to rebuild our infrastructure and manufacturing, so we can make more in America and strengthen our supply chains here at home. We will continue to fight to lower costs in areas that have held back families and working people for decades, from prescription drugs to child care and elder care to their energy costs. And we will continue to promote more competition to make our markets more competitive and give consumers more choices.”