The new round of inflation data shows ballooning prices everywhere as the March gauge on prices leapt 8.5% year-over-year, hitting a point last seen in early 1981.
But there’s just a small smattering of items on the list where price tags increased by double-digit percentages from February to March.
Drivers, take one guess where.
The price on gasoline increased 18.3% month-over-month and 48% year-over-year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said. That expense alone explained more than half of the overall increase in monthly costs for all items, the agency noted.
Overall, energy-related costs jumped 11% month-over-month and 32% year-over-year, the Consumer Price Index data showed.
Tuesday’s data captures the price shock that rippled through the country last month as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine propelled already-rising gas prices to new records.
As Russian President Vladimir Putin keeps pressing his country’s invasion of Ukraine, President Joe Biden has tried framing the gas cost as “Putin’s price hike.”
March 11 marked the new retail gas price record at $4.33, topping the previous high of $4.11 on July 17, 2008, according to AAA.
Adjusting for inflation, the $4.11 spent in July 2008 would still be costlier. That cost would equal $5.37 in March 2022 dollars, according to inflation calculations from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But that’s likely not going to mollify drivers who are experiencing inflation rates at a four-decade high right now.
The national average is coming down for now, hitting $4.09/gallon on Tuesday. But the costs are far higher in some states like California, where drivers are paying an average $5.74.
The inflation data came out soon after the Biden administration announced it was permitting gasoline with higher ethanol blends to be sold during the summer months.
Biden says he’ll release 1 million barrels of oil a day through early fall from the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve in a move that, he says, could lower average prices between 10 and 35 cents a gallon. Some critics worry that’s a shortsighted move when it comes to the country’s long-term energy policies.