Import prices rose by 1.4 percent in February, resulting in a total increase of 10.9 percent year-over-year, the Labor Department said in a March 16 report.
The rise fell slightly short of economists' projections—1.6 percent by economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal—following a 1.9 percent increase in the previous month. The cumulative total of the two months constitutes the largest back-to-back two-month rise in import prices in 11 years, making a substantial contribution to the rising costs of imported goods and exacerbating the now-ubiquitous problem of overall price inflation.
One of the leading catalysts for this overall figure was a 6.9 percent increase in the cost of imported fuel. In February, the rise in petroleum prices (8.1 percent) was more than sufficient to counterbalance a slight decrease in the cost of natural gas. With the most recent month's contributions accounted for, the total increase in petroleum imports was 52.8 percent over the past year—a stark trend that burdens consumers with higher prices on shipped goods.
At the same time, price inflation for food, feed, and beverages tapered off at 1.5 percent growth in February, down from 3 percent in January. Nonfuel industrial supplies also rose by a lesser degree than in January, with 2.2 percent growth in February, as opposed to 3.2 percent in January.
Export prices rose even more significantly than imports, increasing by a total of 3 percent in February—the largest monthly rise on record. Overall, export prices rose by 16.6 percent for the year ending in February.
Prices in euros are rising by the fastest rates since the currency was first implemented. Among major economies, only China reported a lower inflation rate than at the beginning of 2020. With the trend for global inflation going steady two years into the CCP virus pandemic, many fear that such inflation will continue throughout 2022 or later.