Prices spiked a whopping 6.8 percent in November, compared with the same time last year — the fastest acceleration of inflation the country has seen in 39 years, the feds announced Friday.
It’s the highest year-over-year reading of the Labor Department’s Consumer Price Index, which measures a basket of goods and services as well as energy and food costs, since 1982, when the country saw surging inflation that sparked year-over-year spikes as high as more than 14 percent.
That means inflation is now accelerating at the highest pace many Americans have ever seen in their lifetimes.
November’s 6.8 percent spike from the same time last year is up from October’s hotter-than-expected 6.2 percent jump.
The index rose 0.8 percent from October to November, the feds added.
Economists surveyed by Dow Jones expected a 6.7 percent year-over-year spike in November and a monthly increase of 0.7 percent.
The core consumer price index, which excludes volatile food and energy costs, rose 4.9 percent from a year ago, the fastest acceleration of the prices it tracks in some 30 years.
It’s the sixth straight month in which inflation has surged more than 5 percent, year over year, under President Biden.
Republicans have seized on surging prices to hammer Biden’s presidency, saying that the cost increases have been exacerbated by his administration’s policies, specifically his massive spending. Though skeptics of that explanation point to the fact that inflation is flaring up around the globe — not just in the US.
Biden, for his part, has consistently sought to downplay the significance of surging inflation, saying at times that it’s not creating a substantial burden on most Americans and also arguing cost increases were inevitable as the country emerged from the pandemic and demand for goods soared back to pre-pandemic levels or even higher.
The White House’s response to cost increases have cost Biden — as well as Democrats more broadly.
Recent polling has shown that many, if not most, Americans are being financially squeezed by rising gas, food and housing costs and those voters lay the blame on Biden.
Ahead of Friday’s report, Biden and his team sought to prepare Americans for a nasty inflation reading, downplaying its significance and saying it doesn’t reflect recent progress made.
“The information being released tomorrow on energy in November does not reflect today’s reality, and it does not reflect the expected price decreases in the weeks and months ahead, such as in the auto market,” Biden said in an unusually long statement issued on Thursday.
Much of the price increases this summer and fall were driven by sectors that were hit particularly hard by the pandemic, like airlines, car rentals and hotels, that have since seen demand come roaring back.
That bolstered the administration’s argument that these were temporary price increases as demand and supply levels returned to normal. The Federal Reserve echoed that sentiment, repeatedly calling inflation “transitory,” a term chairman Jerome Powell has since retired.
However, price increases have since trickled into other areas of the economy, including housing and food, which is hitting the middle and working class hard.
The broadening bout of inflation has sparked calls for Powell to severely curtail the central bank’s bond-buying program and to lift interest rates, arguing that both have allowed for companies to spend wildly during the pandemic and stoke inflation further.