Walter Mencken 10 a.m., Oct. 9
Consumer Inflation Up 0.4% in April. Worker Earnings Fall
Consumer prices surged 0.4% in April, as higher gasoline prices accounted for more than half the increase, according to government figures released today (May 13).
Consumer prices have now risen 3.2% over the past year. As recently as November, the 12-month increase was 1.1%, according to MarketWatch. The government's "food at home" index, which doesn't include restaurant and takeout orders, zoomed 0.5% in April and has gone up 3.9% over the past 12 months.
The Federal Reserve, however, watches the so-called core rate of inflation, which excludes food and fuel. It only rose 0.2% in April. So the Fed will probably continue to shovel out more liquidity and the dollar will keep dropping. The dollar's weakness is one factor in the rise of oil and other commodities prices. The key is that average hourly earnings of U.S. workers fell 0.3% in April after adjustment for inflation and are down 1.2% over the last year.
Recent drops in commodity prices (oil went from $115 to $100 a barrel) may eventually bring lower gas prices, but, says MarketWatch, "Oil prices would have to continue to drop to offer consumers much relief."