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Data: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

Consumer prices rose last month by 5% compared to May of 2020, marking the biggest year-over-year gain since August 2008, according to Consumer Price Index data released this morning. Prices were 0.6% higher in May than they were in April.

Why it matters: April’s CPI reading intensified concerns that inflation is heating up and will be hard to contain. Today’s data could stoke those fears further and contribute to a self-fulfilling cycle of rising prices.

Zoom in: Used vehicle prices increased 7.3% month-over-month in May, on the heels of a 10% monthly gain in April. Since a year ago, used vehicles are 29.7% more expensive.

Yes, but: Used car prices are currently the poster child for supply chain bottlenecks, and may not be indicative of longer-term inflation trends.

By the numbers:

  • Food prices rose 0.4% in May, after a 0.4% gain in April. They're 2.2% higher than a year ago.
  • Energy costs are 28.5% higher over the last 12 months.
  • Apparel has gone up 5.6% since this time last year.
  • Medical care commodities was the only category that saw a decrease from a year ago, dropping 1.9%.

Context: In April, the CPI reading showed 4.2% growth over the prior year, and 0.8% growth over the prior month.

  • The White House on Wednesday got out in front of the expected jump in prices, making its case that the current uptick will be a short-term phenomenon, Axios' Hans Nichols reported.
  • May's reading was slightly higher than economists' consensus estimates for a 0.4% month-over-month increase and a 4.7% jump from a year ago.

Go deeper

Milestone: Industrial production reached pre-pandemic levels

Data: FRED; Chart: Axios Visuals

Industrial production joins metrics like GDP and consumer spending that have returned to and surpassed pre-pandemic levels.

Why it matters: The pandemic has caused a wide array of disruptions that have gummed up the links along the supply chain. The fact that industrial production still continues to grow suggests the supply chain, while troubled, is at least improving.

Ending unemployment benefits had little impact on Arkansas job growth

Expand chart
Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

States that ended supplemental unemployment benefits early had similar job growth compared to those that continued aid, according to a recent Wall Street Journal analysis.

Why it matters: It suggests the extra $300 a week was not a primary factor keeping unemployed Arkansans from returning to work this last year.

Updated 13 mins ago - Economy & Business

Tax season nightmare ahead for understaffed IRS

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The IRS will start accepting 2021 tax returns in less than a week, and the filing delays and administrative headaches to come might eclipse last year — which was “one of the worst filing seasons," according to an independent advocacy agency within the IRS.

Why it matters: For taxpayers, especially with complex or paper filings, this means headaches, delayed refunds, and mistakes.

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