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Inflation Surges 8.5% In March To Highest Level In 40 Years

Inflation reached a new four-decade high in March as the United States faces supply chain constraints, surge in gas prices, and the Russian war in Ukraine.

The Labor Department reported Tuesday that the consumer price index, which measures goods including gasoline, health care, groceries and rents, rose 8.5% in March from a year ago.

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The increase marked the highest annual rate of increase of inflation since December 1981, when inflation hit 8.9%.

Prices rose 1.2% from February to March, which is the largest month-to-month jump since 2005.

Labor Department officials reported that price increases for gasoline, shelter and food were the largest contributors to inflation. The gasoline price index rose 18.3% last month.

Excluding more volatile measurements of food and energy, the CPI still rose 6.5% in March from the previous year.

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The March report is the first to capture the full effect of the Russia-Ukraine war, which raised gas prices in the U.S. to the highest since 2008.

Used car and truck prices, which have been a big contributor to the inflation increase, are still up 35.3% from the previous year. National average gas prices hit an all-time high of $4.33 in March, but have since declined, according to AAA data.

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In acknowledging that the CPI report was likely to show high inflation, White House press secretary Jen Psaki blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“We expect March CPI headline inflation to be extraordinarily elevated due to Putin’s price hike, and we expect a large difference between core and headline inflation reflecting the global disruptions in energy and food markets,” she said.

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