Producer prices rise record 11.2%, fueling more inflation fears

Wholesale prices have risen at record levels in the past year, according to newly released federal pricing data. 

The Bureau of Labors Statistics released new pricing data Wednesday showing the producer price index, a key marker of inflation, rose 1.4% in March and 11.2% in the last 12 months.

That increase is the highest since BLS began tracking this metric in 2010.

“A 22.7-percent jump in margins for fuels and lubricants retailing was a major factor in the March advance in prices for final demand services,” BLS said. “The indexes for truck transportation of freight; traveler accommodation services; airline passenger services; inpatient care; and hardware, building materials, and supplies retailing also increased. Conversely, prices for securities brokerage, dealing, and investment advice decreased 5.4 percent. The indexes for portfolio management and for automobile retailing (partial) also moved lower.”

The BLS data makes a distinction between final demand goods and final demand services, both of which saw substantive increases in cost.

"Final demand goods: The index for final demand goods rose 2.3 percent in March, the same as in February," BLS said. "Over half of the broad-based advance in March can be traced to a 5.7-percent jump in prices for final demand energy. The indexes for final demand goods less foods and energy and for final demand foods also moved higher, 1.1 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively.

"Prices for final demand services moved up 0.9 percent in March following a 0.3-percent increase in February," BLS added. "Over 40 percent of the March advance can be traced to a 1.2- percent rise in margins for final demand trade services."

The producer price data comes on the heels of troubling Consumer Price Index (CPI) data released Tuesday by the federal government. 

The CPI data showed prices increased an additional 1.2% in March, part of an 8.5% rise in the last 12 months.

“Increases in the indexes for gasoline, shelter, and food were the largest contributors to the seasonally adjusted all items increase,” BLS said. “The gasoline index rose 18.3 percent in March and accounted for over half of the all items monthly increase; other energy component indexes also increased. The food index rose 1.0 percent and the food at home index rose 1.5 percent.”

Energy prices have been the biggest contributor to the CPI rise. Gas prices have soared in recent months, up over $4 per gallon nationally. 

“The all items index continued to accelerate, rising 8.5 percent for the 12 months ending March, the largest 12-month increase since the period ending December 1981," BLS said. "The all items less food and energy index rose 6.5 percent, the largest 12-month change since the period ending August 1982. The energy index rose 32.0 percent over the last year, and the food index increased 8.8 percent, the largest 12-month increase since the period ending May 1981.”

All these data markers have continued a trend of rising inflation in the last year that has Americans worried. 

"Who’s to blame for [inflation]?" said U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky. "[President Joe Biden] blames Putin. Republicans blame Democrats. On [March 27, 2020], Congress passed the biggest spending bill in history, and followed up with more, totaling $7 trillion. I predicted this inflation when I opposed these bills."

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