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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Pockets of the U.S. economy (housing and autos, for instance) are on fire — and consumers are having to pay more than they have in years, fresh inflation data today showed.

Why it matters: “Not everybody’s wages are going up fast enough to keep up with these price increases,” David Wessel, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, tells Axios.

  • In most cases, essentials — and the nice-to-haves — cost more now than before COVID-19 wrecked the economy.

What’s happening: Prices in May for floor coverings, tools and outdoor equipment, plus moving and storage, saw the biggest monthly spike in records that go back to 1957.

  • An index that tracks furniture prices jumped the most in 45 years.
  • And then there's used car prices, which rose more than 7% in one month alone — after a 10% gain the prior month.

The big picture: Prices rose 5% from May 2020, a time when costs drifted lower as the world shut down. It was the biggest annual spike since 2008 — though the monthly pace (0.6%) slowed from April's.

  • Blame the "supreme imbalance between supply and demand coming out of the pandemic," says Nationwide economist Ben Ayers.

What they're saying: Roughly half of the inflation rise came from autos, car rentals and airfares.

  • "[A] narrow range of categories are accounting for a majority of the advance, and their contribution is unsustainable," Bespoke Investment Group's George Pearkes tweeted.
  • Put plainly, these price spikes may not stick around.

The bottom line: “[O]nly apparel prices are lower, by around 4%, than they were on average in 2019,” says Cailin Birch, an economist at the Economist Intelligence Unit.

  • Prices for all other categories “have recovered … above (or in some cases well above) pre-pandemic levels.”

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.

1 hour ago - Sports

Robot umpires inch closer to calling MLB games

The Automated Ball-Strike system (ABS), the tech powering what's colloquially known as robo-umps, is inching ever closer to the big leagues.

Driving the news: The independent Atlantic League — which has partnered with MLB since 2019 — last week announced it was doing away with robo-umps after testing them for the past season-and-a-half.

FBI conducts "court-authorized" search of Rep. Henry Cuellar's home

Rep. Henry Cuellar. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

The FBI said it conducted a "court-authorized" search on Wednesday in the area of the Texas home of Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas).

State of play: "The FBI was present in the vicinity of Windridge Drive and Estate Drive in Laredo conducting court-authorized law enforcement activity," an FBI spokesperson told Axios, adding that they "cannot provide further comment on an ongoing investigation."