US inflation rate slowed to .3 per cent last month

The US Consumer Price Index rose by just three tenths of a per cent in April, the Bureau of Labour Statistics said Wednesday.

The .3 per cent increase is the smallest monthly rise in prices in the last six months — just a quarter of the 1.2 per cent increase recorded in March — and could indicate the rate of inflation is slowing after months of record increases.

The CPI increase was largely driven by spikes in prices for housing, food, air transportation, and new vehicles, while energy prices fell by 2.7 per cent.

Gasoline prices also fell by 6.1 per cent last month, a significant reversal from the 18.3 per cent increase recorded in March.

The BLS data also shows consumers last month paid prices 8.3 per cent higher than they did in April 2021, though that increase is .2 per cent lower than the 8.5 per cent increase recorded from March 2021 to March 2022.

The new data comes as President Joe Biden seeks to make tackling inflation, which he called the “number-one challenge facing families today” and his administration’s “top domestic priority” in remarks on Tuesday.

Though Republicans have sought to place blame on Mr Biden’s policies for the record spike in prices, Mr Biden noted that prices have been rising worldwide, and attributed the record inflation to the ongoing effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

In a statement, Mr Biden said the April drop in inflation compared to the month prior was “heartening,” but called the current rate “unacceptably high”.

“As I said yesterday, inflation is a challenge for families across the country and bringing it down is my top economic priority,” he said, adding that the Federal Reserve — the US central bank — will take the lead in fighting inflation and thanking the Senate for confirming his latest nominee to the bank’s board of governors, Lisa Cook.

Mr Biden said he is “confident” that the Federal Reserve will do its’ job, and touted his administration’s inflation plan as one “focused on lowering the costs that families face and lowering the federal deficit”.

While the president said actions his administration has taken to lower the deficit have resulted in “progress,” he stressed that the battle against “global supply chain issues related to the pandemic and Putin’s price hike” would “continue every day,” and castigated Republicans in Congress for talking about inflation while planning to “raise taxes on working families, taking even more money out of their pockets”.

“If they are serious about inflation, they should send me the bipartisan innovation bill to bolster our supply chains and make more in America, along with legislation that cuts costs and the cuts the deficit, reducing families’ prescription drug and utility bills and restoring fairness to our tax code,” he said. “We’ve made enormous progress in getting our economy back on track, and these measures would help us sustain this progress and bring prices down for families”.

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