WASHINGTON — Propelled by surging costs for gas, food and housing, consumer inflation jumped 7.9% over the past year, the sharpest spike since 1982 and likely only a harbinger of even higher prices to come.
The increase reported by the Labor Department reflected the 12 months ending in February and didn’t include most of the oil and gas price increases that followed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.
Just this week, AAA and GasBuddy both reported that U.S. gas prices hit an all-time high, soaring past records set in 2008.
Even before the war further accelerated price increases, robust consumer spending, solid pay raises and persistent supply shortages had sent U.S. consumer inflation to its highest level in four decades.
Last month, the Labor Department reported that wholesale prices were up nearly 10% over the past year. Final demand energy prices rose 2.5% in January. Food had an increase of 1.6%.
The new numbers come as the Federal Reserve plans to raise interest rates in March. Citi economists expect a 50-basis-point hike.