CLEVELAND, Ohio — Rising inflation has reached levels not seen since 1982, according to federal numbers released Wednesday.
The consumer price index, the standard measure of inflation, rose 7% from December 2020 to December 2021. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it’s the largest yearly increase since June 1982.
This is despite month-to-month inflation slowing down. In December the CPI rose 0.5%, down from the 0.8% in November and 0.9% in October. But prices on some items are rising faster than others, and some are starting to drop in price.
Here are six things we learned from Wednesday’s federal inflation numbers:
Gasoline, natural gas got cheaper for the first time in months
The price of gasoline went down a half percent in December, the first monthly decrease since May. Utility gas, which includes natural gas used to heat homes, went down 1.2% in December, the first price drop since January 2021.
Federal month-to-month data is seasonally adjusted, which means normal price change patterns are taken out of the data.
Gasoline is still 49.6% more expensive than 12-months ago, while utility gas is up 24.1%.
Rising prices not just gas and food
Food and gasoline prices are volatile and subject to large price swings, but they aren’t the only items becoming more expensive.
When not looking at food or energy prices, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said prices still went up 5.5% compared to last year.
Food, meanwhile, is 6.3% more expensive than a year ago.
Vehicle prices are still soaring up
Both new and used vehicles continue to increase in price. Used cars and trucks are 37.3% more expensive than 12 months ago, and new vehicles are 11.8% higher.
Used cars and trucks went up 3.5% just in December, according to the data. Both new and used vehicles are large drivers in the total inflation numbers, the BLS said.
Lodging is rising in price after dropping in 2020
Hotels, motels and other forms of lodging are rising in prices after dropping last year.
This time last year, hotel and motel prices were 11.3% cheaper. In December 2021, they were up 27.6%.
All forms of shelter are up 4.2%, according to the data. Rent is up 3.3% since last year.
Real earnings suffering because of inflation
Hourly wages are going up, but they can’t keep up with rising prices, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Real earnings went up only a tenth of a percent in December. Hourly wages were up 0.6% in December, but the rise in prices almost cancels out the wage increases.
Average hourly earnings are up 4.7% compared to last year, but real earnings are 2.4% lower when inflation is considered.
Furniture, appliances and apparel are all seeing increases
Many household items are getting more expensive, from the chairs you sit on to the clothing you wear.
Furniture and bedding are 13.8% more expensive than a year ago and jumped 2% in price in December alone. Major appliances are up 8.4% year-over-year and jumped 2.4% in November.
Apparel is also 5.8% more expensive than this time last year, jumping 1.7% in December alone.