Prices that consumers pay on everyday items surged in March to their highest levels since the early days of the Reagan administration, according to Labor Department data released Tuesday.
The consumer price index, which measures a wide-ranging basket of goods and services, jumped 8.5% from a year ago on an unadjusted basis, above even the already elevated Dow Jones estimate for 8.4%.
Excluding food and energy, the CPI increased 6.5%, in line with the expectation.
The data reflected price increases not seen in the U.S. since the stagflation days of the late 1970s and early ’80s. March’s headline reading in fact was the highest since December 1981. Core inflation was the hottest since August 1982.
Due to the surge in inflation, real earnings, despite rising 5.6% from a year ago, still weren’t keeping pace with the cost of living. Real average hourly earnings posted a seasonally adjusted 0.8% decline for the month, according to a separate Bureau of Labor Statistics report.