Inflation Accelerates Again in February 2022

CPI-U up by 7.9% over past 12 months, largest increase since January 1982

In February 2022, the Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers (CPI-U) was up by 0.8% on a seasonally adjusted basis. This equaled the 0.8% monthly rise recorded in November 2021 and exceeded the 0.6% figure for January 2022. The 0.8% rise in February is equivalent to a compound annualized rate of 10.0%.

The all items index has risen by 7.9% during the past 12 months, up from the figure of 7.5% recorded in the 12 months through January 2022. This yet again represents the biggest 12-month increase in 40 years, this time being the largest year-over-year surge in prices since the period ending in January 1982.

Key Takeaways

  • In February 2022, inflation, as measured by the CPI-U, posted its biggest 12-month increase since January 1982.
  • The 12-month increase was 7.9%, up from 7.5% in the period through January 2022.
  • Price hikes for gasoline, shelter, and food were major contributors to overall inflation.
  • The index for all items less food and energy was up by 0.5% for the month, down from 0.6% in January.
  • All items less food and energy has risen by 0.5% or more in 8 of the past 11 months.

Key Drivers: Gasoline, Shelter, and Food

The February 2022 rise in the all items CPI-U was driven mainly by increases in the prices of gasoline (up by 6.6% for the month), shelter (up by 0.5% for the month), and food (up by 1.0% for the month). Rising gasoline prices accounted for nearly one-third of the overall increase in the CPI-U. Food and gasoline both recorded their largest monthly increases since April 2020. Even so, shelter was by far the largest factor in the overall increase.

Other categories that recorded price increases of more than 1.0% for the month were fuel oil (up 7.7%), energy commodities (up 6.6%), utility piped gas service (up 1.5%), and transportation services (up 1.4%). The only declines observed in February were for electricity (down 1.1%), energy services (down 0.4%), and used cars and trucks (down 0.2%).

Over the past 12 months, the energy index was up by 25.6%, while the food index increased by 7.9%. The index for all items less food and energy rose by 0.5% in February, down from 0.6% in January. This was the eighth time in the past 11 months it has increased by at least 0.5%. Over the past 12 months, the index for all items less food and energy was up by 6.4%.

Shelter was up by 0.5% in February, after a rise of 0.3% in January. Shelter accounted for more than 40% of the February increase in the all items less food and energy index. Its 12-month increase was 4.7%, the largest since the period ending in May 1991.

Energy

The energy index was up by 3.5% in February, following an increase of 0.9% in January. The gasoline index was up sharply in February, increasing 6.6% after falling 0.8% in January. The index for natural gas rose 1.5% in February, after declining 0.5% in January. The electricity index rose sharply in January, by 4.2%, but declined by 1.1% in February.

Over the past 12 months, while the overall energy index was up by 25.6%, gasoline rose by 38.0%, energy commodities by 37.9%, fuel oil by 43.6%, utility piped gas service by 23.8%, energy services by 12.3%, and electricity by 9.0%.

Food

The food index increased by 1.0% in February, with food at home having risen by 1.4% and food away from home by 0.4%. Over the past 12 months, the overall increase of 7.9% in the price of food includes an 8.6% rise in food at home and a 6.8% hike in the price of food away from home. These 12-month increases were, respectively, the largest since the periods ending in April 1981 and December 1981.

All six major grocery store food group indexes increased in February. The biggest was fruits and vegetables, rising 2.3%, its largest monthly increase since March 2010. Fresh fruits increased 3.7%, and fresh vegetables rose 1.3%.

The increases in the other five major major grocery store indexes for February were: dairy and related products, +1.9% (its largest monthly increase since April 2011); nonalcoholic beverages, +1.6%; meats, poultry, fish, and eggs, +1.2%; cereals and bakery products, +1.1%; and other food at home, +0.8%.

Vehicles, Transportation, Apparel

The rising prices of vehicles, both new and used, have been major contributors to overall inflation. New vehicle prices rose by 0.3% in February and were up by 12.4% over the past 12 months. Used cars and trucks saw a decrease of 0.2% in February but were up by 41.2% over the past 12 months.

Several other transportation-related indexes recorded large increases over the past year. Airline fares jumped by 5.2% in February, leaving them 12.4% higher than a year ago. Transportation services in total were up by 6.6% during the past 12 months, after monthly increases of 1.0% in January and 1.4% in February.

Shoppers for clothing also are seeing escalating prices. Apparel was up by 0.7% for February, down from a 1.1% increase in January, but 6.6% higher than a year ago.

Article Sources

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  1. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Consumer Price Index Summary."

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