Private inflation gauge shows prices rising faster than government measure
With the government’s measure of inflation now running at 40-years highs, there’s talk about how much the official data may understate the actual price increases people are seeing in the wild.
One such measure comes from the American Institute for Economic Research, which has its own “Everyday Price Index” or EPI. It’s been running hot, just like the federal government’s Consumer price Index. But it shows inflation is a lot higher than government data show:
The AIER Everyday Price Index posted its 12th consecutive monthly increase in November, rising 0.5 percent. The gain follows a 1.2 percent jump in October. From a year ago, the Everyday Price Index is up 9.3 percent, the fastest pace since September 2008.
Gains were again widespread with 17 of the 24 components making a positive contribution for the month. However, most of the changes were small for the month as just three categories accounted for all of the monthly gain. The positive contributions were led by motor fuel, up 2.8 percent for the month (and 58.0 percent for the year) and contributing 31 basis points to the monthly gain. Food away from home (a.k.a. restaurants) was the second-largest contributor to the increase in November, contributing 11 basis points to the gain while food at home (a.k.a. groceries) added 8 basis points. Household fuels and utilities fell in November subtracting 1 basis point. Combined, food and energy categories have a weighting of 64.9 percent of the Everyday Price Index. Six other categories posted small declines in November.
The Everyday Price Index including apparel, a broader measure that includes clothing and shoes, rose 0.3 percent, also the 12th consecutive increase. Over the past year, the Everyday Price Index including apparel is up 9.0 percent, the fastest pace since August 2008. Apparel prices fell 1.6 percent on a not-seasonally-adjusted basis in November. Apparel prices tend to be volatile on a month-to-month basis. From a year ago, apparel prices are up 5.0 percent.
No matter how it’s measured, then, inflation is gaining steam (for now). What might lay lie ahead for prices?
Price pressures for many goods and services in the economy remain elevated due to shortages of supplies and materials, logistical and supply chain issues, and labor problems. As activity returns to normal, supply and demand will adapt and likely lead to slower price increases, but it may take some time before the economy completely returns to normal functioning. Recurring waves of new Covid cases will likely prolong the process.
In other words, get ready to pay more for longer…right through the upcoming congressional elections.