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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

More signs of inflation are popping up in U.S. data and economic reports, suggesting the rising inflation expectations of both consumers and investors are starting to play out in the economy.

Driving the news: The NFIB's latest small business jobs report showed the percentage of firms raising average selling prices increased to 25% in February, the highest since August 2008.

That backed the findings of a WSJ piece tracking larger firms that noted "companies across a range of industries are grappling with higher prices for commodities such as lumber and steel."

  • The jump in commodities prices has pushed many U.S. businesses, like La-Z-Boy, the Container Store and Sleep Number, to increase prices to offset the costs, WSJ's Kristin Broughton reported.

Zoom in: NFIB's survey also found the number of businesses who said finding qualified labor was a challenge jumped, with 91% of those trying to hire reporting few or no “qualified” applicants for their open positions, up 5 points from January.

  • 40% of small-business owners had job openings they couldn't fill in February — the largest share on record, dating back to 1973.
  • That flies in the face of traditional supply/demand economics, considering the glut of unemployed workers, and could spell trouble for future employment trends.

What to watch: "The proportion of firms reporting that finding qualified labor is their biggest problem has now recovered most of the drop triggered by Covid, and both actual and expected employee compensation are rising," Pantheon Macroeconomics chief economist Ian Shepherdson said in a note to clients. 

  • "The labor market, in short, looks nothing like the wasteland seen after the crash of 2008, and the potential for wage inflation to rise as the economy recovers is much greater."

Of note: Despite the increasing inflationary inputs, today's consumer price index is expected to remain anchored below 2%, as major contributors like salaries and housing costs have been muted largely as a result of the pandemic.

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Technology

Facebook changes corporate name to Meta

Screen shot of CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the company's "Connect" virtual event

CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday said the social media giant is renaming its company Meta.

Why it matters: The effort is meant to shift its image from a social media platform to a “metaverse” company that focuses on building virtual work and social communities.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

Filings show Sweetgreen isn't profitable, despite claims

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Restaurant chain Sweetgreen on Monday filed to go public, and revealed that it lost money in each year since 2014.

Why it matters: The company lied when it repeatedly told reporters it was profitable.

U.S. border cities again see low violent crime rates

Expand chart
Data: FBI, Kansas Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

Reported violent crime in the United States rose in 2020 for the first time in four years, but violent crime rates in 11 of the largest communities along the U.S.-Mexico border stayed below the national average, an Axios analysis found. 

Why it matters: Year after year, data showing low violent crime rates in majority-Mexican American and Mexican immigrant border communities dispels myths of the U.S.-Mexico border as a region filled with crime and chaos.