Supermarket prices jumped another 0.7% in August and are up 13.5% over the past year, helping offset the steep drop in gasoline prices.
The Consumer Price Index rose 0.1% in August despite the 10.6% decline in gasoline prices. The CPI is up 8.3% since August 2021.
Prices for cereals and bakery products continued to be a major driver of inflation at the grocery store. They rose 1.2% in August and are up 16.4% over the past 12 months. Dairy products, which have also contributed significantly to inflation in recent months, rose a more modest 0.3% but are still up 16.2% over the past year. Dairy costs had risen 1.7% in both June and July.
Beef prices, which had been declining or flat in recent months, jumped 0.8% in August, while the price of eggs rose 2.9% and are up 39.8% over the past year, reflecting an avian flu outbreak that forced the depopulation of many flocks. Fruits and vegetables cost 0.5% more in August
The food away from home index, a measure of restaurant prices and food service costs, rose 0.9%. The CPI’s overall food index, which includes grocery prices as well as the cost of food eaten away from home, was up 0.8%.
In a statement, President Joe Biden said the August CPI shows "more progress in bringing global inflation down in the U.S. economy," while acknowledging "we saw some price increases slow from the month before at the grocery store."
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"It will take more time and resolve to bring inflation down, which is why we passed the Inflation Reduction Act to lower the cost of healthcare, prescription drugs and energy," he said, referring to the recently enacted package of climate- and health-care related spending. "And my economic plan is showing that, as we bring prices down, we are creating good paying jobs and bringing manufacturing back to America."
Jason Furman, who chaired the White House Council of Economic Advisers under President Barack Obama, tweeted that the latest CPI was "not pretty. Broad-based relief not coming."
Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, who served under Bill Clinton, said the report shows the country "has a serious inflation problem. Core inflation is higher this month than for the quarter, higher this quarter than last quarter, higher this half of the year than the previous one, and higher last year than the previous one."
Republicans, who see inflation as a winning issue in the mid-term elections, continued their criticism of Biden's handling of the economy. “Widespread underlying inflation is still not under control, and Americans are paying far too much for everyday goods and services," said the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, Mike Crapo of Idaho.
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