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Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Emerging from pandemic lockdown is shaping up to be pricey. Traveling, eating out and even refreshing your wardrobe costs more, per April inflation data out today.

Why it matters: The economy is reopening and suddenly Americans want in on the activities they've gone a year without. The data shows how much that sudden demand has helped push prices higher — at least for now.

Catch up quick: Year-over-year prices rose 4.2% — the steepest climb since 2008, Axios' Hope King reports. It's coming off the weaker readings from last year when the pandemic hit.

  • On a monthly basis, the index rose 0.8%, much higher than the 0.2% economists expected.
  • A historic surge in used car and truck prices accounted for more than a third of the increase: Prices last month jumped the most (+10%) in the index's 68-year history, thanks to the chip shortage that's zapped car supply.

Other categories with "unprecedented" monthly increases, per Barclays: lodging away from home (+8%) and airline fares (+10%).

  • The apparel index — clothes, shoes, jewelry — rose 0.3%, its first bump since January. Food away from home continued to rise last month, but so did food at home.
  • The surge is "unlikely to be sustained," says Michael Gapen, Barclays' chief economist.

The big question critical to the timeline for fuller economic recovery is how long the higher prices spurred by more demand — or higher input costs caused by a growing list of shortages passed along to consumers — stick around.

Go deeper

Inflation climbs at quickest pace since 2008

Data: CPI. Axios Visuals

The latest gauge on inflation released Wednesday morning showed that prices rose 4.2% over last year, based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Why it matters: The gains were highest since September 2008, stoking new fears of inflation. Prices jumped significantly compared to the start of the pandemic last year, when lockdowns drove down demand.

Soaring crop prices set off inflation fears

Expand chart
S&P Global Market Intelligence; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Crop prices like corn, wheat and soybeans have hit highs not seen in almost a decade. And they’re likely to stay that way for a while, sparking jitters over food inflation.

Why it matters: Higher prices are a boon for farmers following years in the doldrums — and after supply chain chaos early in the pandemic. But they will bleed through to consumers at the grocery store and in restaurants.

Optimism rises among small business owners even as many struggle to hire

Expand chart
Data: NFIB; Chart: Axios Visuals

Small business owners' optimism improved during April, even as many struggled to fill open positions.

Why it matters: Small businesses were hit hard with closures at the beginning of the pandemic, and an uneven recovery has proved that business owners still face a mountain of uncertainty.