Apr 13, 2021 - Economy & Business

Consumer prices on the rise after pandemic lull

Data: FRED; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: FRED; Chart: Axios Visuals

Consumer prices are rising again — in contrast to this time last year, when they were falling as America responded to the first wave of the pandemic.

Driving the news: Per this morning's data release of the Consumer Price Index for March, they're now 0.6% above where they were last month, 2.6% above where they were last year, and 2.3% above their level in February 2020.

  • Gasoline prices, which are much more volatile than most consumer prices, accounted for almost half the overall increase.

The big picture: Inflation has been too low — which is to say, below the Fed's 2% target — for well over a decade. The big question about the current pace of price gains is whether they will be temporary, as the White House expects, or whether they will kick-start a dangerously self-fulfilling upward price spiral.

Go deeper