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Inflation Is Hurting Americans, Fueled by Energy Prices that Are Now a Whopping 36 Percent Higher

Gasoline prices are displayed at a gas station in Vernon Hills, IL, April 1, 2022.
Gasoline prices are displayed at a gas station in Vernon Hills, IL, April 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Soaring inflation is hitting Americans hard as energy costs rose 11% in March, and groceries jumped another 1.5%. Most of us don't remember inflation this bad, and for good reason. It's not been this severe since the 1980s.

"Everything's going up at least a dollar, which, you know, adds up, of course, especially when you have kids, and I'm going to get groceries," said Jason Emerson, a typical American struggling with the higher cost of living.

On Tuesday, the Labor Department announced consumer prices jumped by 8.5% last month, the fastest clip since 1981. Then on Wednesday, it reported that wholesale prices - the Producer Price Index - climbed 11.2% last month from a year earlier.

Economist Dr. Steven Skancke said, "The big driver was the gasoline prices which were up 18 percent month over month."

Skancke has worked for multiple administrations. He says rising energy prices and Russia's war on Ukraine have literally fueled our inflation.

"The U.S. in 2019 was a net exporter of oil and we discovered after the invasion that we're actually importing Russian oil - and that actually creates a problem," Skancke said.

Energy prices are up 36 percent, compared to a year ago. That, plus pandemic-induced supply shortages, have whiplashed the U.S.  economy and left many families in the lurch.

"I come to the food bank every week because they have fresh vegetables and stuff that I can't necessarily afford," said Mary Heimann. 

Skancke says there's some bright spots. Core prices show supply chain issues are beginning to improve and business investment is growing.

Worldwide, however, there's no encouragement around these issues. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says 275 million people face acute food insecurity.

Yellen said, "I am deeply concerned about the impact of Russia's war on food prices and supply, particularly on poor populations who spend a larger share of their income on food." 

In Washington next week, the World Bank and IMF will focus on these food shortages, rising inflation, and how they could worsen global political unrest.

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