Prices Continue to Surge: Here’s What’s Becoming More Expensive

By Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education. The best writing advice he's ever heard is from Roy Peter Clark: 'Hit your target' and 'leave the best for last.'
November 13, 2021 Updated: November 14, 2021

With inflation running hot in October, U.S. consumers paid slightly more for most goods and services than in the previous month, and far more than a year ago.

The Labor Department’s consumer price index (CPI), a key inflation gauge that measures how much Americans pay for goods and services, rose 0.9 percent over the month in October and 6.2 percent over the year, with the annual figure reflecting the highest pace of price hikes in nearly 31 years.

The agency’s report (pdf), released Nov. 10, breaks down how much prices have increased for certain key services and goods, including gas, food prices, electricity, and used cars. Seasonally adjusted figures are only available for the month-over-month comparison, while seasonally unadjusted data is available in both over-the-year and over-the-month formats.

Gasoline: Rose 49.6 percent year-over-year and 3.7 percent month-over-month seasonally unadjusted; 6.1 percent month-over-month, seasonally adjusted.

Fuel oil: Up 59.1 percent year-over-year and 12.3 percent month-over-month seasonally unadjusted; 12.3 percent month-over-month, seasonally adjusted.

Electricity: Rose 6.5 percent year-over-year, though fell 0.1 percent month-over-month seasonally unadjusted; 1.8 percent month-over-month, seasonally adjusted.

Utility (piped) gas service: Increased 28.1 percent year-over-year and 6.5 percent month-over-month seasonally unadjusted; 6.6 percent month-over-month, seasonally adjusted.

Propane, kerosene, and firewood: Rose 34.7 percent year-over-year and 7.9 percent month-over-month seasonally unadjusted; 6.2 percent month-over-month, seasonally adjusted.

Food: Up 5.3 percent year-over-year and 1 percent month-over-month seasonally unadjusted; 0.9 percent month-over-month, seasonally adjusted.

Meats, poultry, fish, and eggs: Rose 11.9 percent year-over-year and 1.4 percent month-over-month seasonally unadjusted; 1.7 percent month-over-month, seasonally adjusted.

Bacon and similar products: Up 20.2 percent year-over-year and 2.1 percent month-over-month seasonally unadjusted; 2 percent month-over-month, seasonally adjusted.

Pork chops: Up 15.9 percent year-over-year and 5 percent month-over-month seasonally unadjusted; 5 percent month-over-month, seasonally adjusted.

Uncooked beef steaks: Increased 24.2 percent year-over-year and 1.9 percent month-over-month seasonally unadjusted; 1.7 percent month-over-month, seasonally adjusted.

Peanut butter: Up 6 percent year-over-year and 3.3 percent month-over-month seasonally unadjusted; 3.3 percent month-over-month, seasonally adjusted.

Coffee: Rose 4.7 percent year-over-year and 1.7 percent month-over-month seasonally unadjusted; 2.8 percent month-over-month, seasonally adjusted.

Restaurant prices: Rose 5.3 percent year-over-year and 0.8 percent month-over-month seasonally unadjusted; 0.8 percent month-over-month, seasonally adjusted.

Furniture and bedding: Up 12 percent year-over-year and 0.3 percent month-over-month seasonally unadjusted; 0.3 percent month-over-month, seasonally adjusted.

Sporting goods: Increased 8.7 percent year-over-year and 1.6 percent month-over-month seasonally unadjusted; 1.6 percent month-over-month, seasonally adjusted.

Appliances: Up 6.6 percent year-over-year, while declining 0.2 percent month-over-month seasonally unadjusted; Fell 0.1 percent month-over-month, seasonally adjusted.

Used cars and trucks: Up 26.4 percent year-over-year and 1.4 percent month-over-month seasonally unadjusted; 2.5 percent month-over-month, seasonally adjusted.

New cars and trucks: Increased 9.8 percent year-over-year and 2.6 percent month-over-month seasonally unadjusted; 1.4 percent month-over-month, seasonally adjusted.

Motor vehicle maintenance and repair: Rose 5.4 percent year-over-year and 1.5 percent month-over-month seasonally unadjusted; 1.5 percent month-over-month, seasonally adjusted.

Delivery services: Rose 7.5 percent year-over-year and 0.4 percent month-over-month seasonally unadjusted; 0.7 percent month-over-month, seasonally adjusted.

Rent: Up 2.7 percent year-over-year and 0.5 percent month-over-month seasonally unadjusted; 0.4 percent month-over-month, seasonally adjusted.

Lodging away from home: Rose 22.3 percent year-over-year, though fell 3.2 percent month-over-month seasonally unadjusted; Up 1.4 percent month-over-month, seasonally adjusted.

The Labor Department’s consumer price data release followed a separate government report a day earlier showing that producer prices rose in the 12 months through October at 8.6 percent, matching the September rate, which was the highest since 2008.

The producer price inflation data added to concern about consumer price inflation, since higher production costs tend to trickle down to consumers.

Analysts at ING said in a recent note that the extent to which elevated producer costs will ultimately be passed on to consumers depends partly on whether businesses are willing to squeeze margins to maintain volumes.

But that becomes less likely the longer the supply chain bottlenecks persist, the ING team said, “which means that we expect goods inflation to further increase over the coming months and to remain elevated throughout the first half of the year as pipeline pressures remain fierce.”

With prices running high and little sign of immediate relief, consumer expectations for what the rate of inflation will be in the future have surged to all-time highs.

The New York Fed’s most recent consumer inflation expectations survey showed that short-term (one year ahead) inflation expectations rose in October to 5.7 percent, the highest reading in the history of the series. The medium-term (three years ahead) inflation expectations remained unchanged from the prior month’s level of 4.2 percent, which was a record high.

“Inflation concerns are weighing on consumer confidence, and with an annual rate north of 6 percent, this will only continue,” Bankrate Chief Financial Analyst Greg McBride told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement, while predicting that supply chain bottlenecks “will be with us well into 2022, and with that, upward pressure on prices.”

“Consumers are feeling it in the pocketbook at the gas pump, grocery store and tenants in many parts of the country could get sticker shock at their next lease renewal,” he said.

Biden administration officials and Fed policymakers have repeatedly said that the current inflationary bout is temporary and will abate once pandemic-related supply-side bottlenecks are ironed out.

Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education. The best writing advice he's ever heard is from Roy Peter Clark: 'Hit your target' and 'leave the best for last.'