RIVERSIDE (CNS) – Inflation rose almost 1% throughout the Riverside metropolitan area over the last two months, fueled by higher expenses for food and shelter, according to a report released Tuesday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The agency’s bimonthly report, which covers northwestern Riverside County as well as the cities of Ontario and San Bernardino, indicated that the metro area’s Consumer Price Index was .8% for April and May.
Food prices led the upward trajectory, with a 1% increase from the beginning of April to the end of May, followed by property rents at .7%. Energy prices continued their slide, dipping 1% during the two-month period, as the cost of natural gas and petroleum settled lower.
On an annualized basis, the CPI was up 3.9% in the metro area, according to the BLS.
The index showed that food prices were 7.8% higher in the 12-month period ending last month, with eggs, cereals and bakery products leading the pack due to a 15% leap.
Items less food and energy increased 5.8% over the prior year. But according to the BLS, energy prices offset the other costs, falling 11.2% year- over-year on the index, though electricity costs did not factor into that decline. The cost of powering homes and businesses was up 7.7% compared to May 2022.
In February and March, the metro CPI was unchanged, compared to a 1.3% increase in the two-month period ending Jan. 30, 2023.
The BLS report showed pocketbook pressure was up 4% nationwide from May 2022 to May 2023.
The current rate of inflation reflects the elevated price trajectory impacting most sectors of the economy. The Riverside metro area hasn’t recorded a comparable inflationary pattern since the local CPI was first published in 2018, data showed.
The accelerating consumer price hikes have been blamed by the Biden administration on the war in Ukraine and consequent energy supply disruptions, but critics have pointed to the administration’s restrictive domestic energy policies, as well as excessive spending, including the flood of dollars contained in relief packages, as root causes.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Federal Reserve Bank Chair Jerome Powell acknowledged last year that inflation would not be “transitory,” as they had initially predicted.
The Fed’s Open Market Committee has been gradually adjusting its benchmark, or target, lending rate since the spring of 2022, with the most recent adjustment in May, bringing it to 5%, in an attempt to soak up excess liquidity and slow spending. It’s currently speculated that the Fed will pause the rate-hiking policy.
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