Consumer prices rose 7.9% in February compared to a year ago as gasoline, shelter, and food costs soared, setting a new 40-year high for inflation, the federal government said Thursday.
The report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for February does not include most of the oil and gasoline price increases that followed the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24. The full impact of recent hikes at the pump will be reflected in March’s report to be released April 24.
The 12-month Consumer Price Index increase has been steadily rising and is now the largest since the period ending January 1982, the BLS said.
On a monthly basis, nearly every category of goods and services became more expensive in February. Grocery costs jumped 1.4% compared to January, the sharpest one-month increase since the price surge that occurred two years ago during the early months of the pandemic. Gas prices spiked 6.6% and accounted for nearly one-third of the all-items monthly increase.
On an annual basis, grocery prices have jumped 8.6% in the 12 months ending in February, the largest year-over-year increase since 1981, the government said. Gas prices are up a 38% and housing costs have risen 4.7% nationwide over the past year.
Inflation is running lower in the Northeast because housing prices have not spiked as high here compared to other parts of the country. In the New York City-Newark-Jersey City metro area, the all-items consumer price index was 5.1% higher in February than a year ago, compared to the 7.9% average nationwide. The Phoenix-Scottsdale-Mesa, Arizona metro area had the highest annual inflation (+10.9%), followed by the Atlanta region (+10.6%), the BLS said.
Breaking the data down by region, groceries were up 9.1%, housing costs were up 2.5% and gasoline was up 37.5%, in the metro area that includes New York City and Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex and Union counties in New Jersey. The price of new cars was up 15.9% and the cost of used cars was up a whopping 42.7% compared to February 2021.