U.S. consumer prices accelerated in May at the fastest rate since 1981, as Americans grapple with a surge in the cost of gas, food, and shelter, data showed Friday.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May Consumer Price Index (CPI) showed a year-over-year increase of 8.6% last month, up from 8.3% in April. Economists were expecting an 8.3% increase in May, according to estimates compiled by Bloomberg.
On a month-over-month basis, the broadest measure of inflation climbed 1.0%, compared to 0.3% in April. “Core” inflation, which strips out the more volatile costs of food and gas, rose 6% over the prior year in May, more than the 5.9% that was expected.
The biggest contributors to the latest jump in inflation were shelter, gasoline, and food, according to the BLS. The energy index rose 3.9% month-on-month in May, with the gasoline index rising 4.1%. Compared to the prior year, energy prices in May were up 34.6%, the most since September 2005.
Meanwhile, the food index rose 1.2% from April to May and 10.1% over the prior year, the largest jump since March 1981.
The cost of shelter rose 0.6% in May when compared to the prior month, the largest jump since March 2004. Owners’ equivalent rent, a component of the shelter index, rose 0.6% in May, the most since August 1990.
Also driving the index higher were airline fares amid a surge in fuel prices and pent-up demand for travel as COVID restrictions ease. The price of airline fares rose 12.6% in May, though this marked a slight moderation from April’s 18.6% increase.