Washington: Falling gas prices gave Americans a slight break from the pain of high inflation last month, though the surge in overall prices slowed only modestly from the four-decade high it reached in June.
Consumer prices jumped 8.5% in July compared with a year earlier, the US government said, down from a 9.1% year-over-year jump in June, AP reported.
On a monthly basis, prices were unchanged from June to July, the smallest such rise in more than two years. Still, prices have risen across a wide range of goods and services, leaving most Americans worse off.
Average paychecks are rising faster than they have in decades — but not fast enough to keep up with accelerating costs for such items as food, rent, autos and medical services.
Last month, excluding the volatile food and energy categories, so-called core prices rose just 0.3% from June, the smallest month-to-month increase since April.
And compared with a year ago, core prices rose 5.9% in July, the same year-over-year increase as in June.
President Joe Biden has pointed to declining gas prices as a sign that his policies — including large releases of oil from the nation’s strategic reserve — are helping lessen the higher costs that have strained Americans’ finances, particularly for lower-income Americans and Black and Hispanic households.
Yet Republicans are stressing the persistence of high inflation as a top issue in the midterm congressional elections, with polls showing that elevated prices have driven Biden’s approval ratings down sharply.
Chair Jerome Powell has said the Fed needs to see a series of declining monthly core inflation readings before it would consider pausing its rate hikes.
Data from Bank of America, based on its customer accounts, shows that rent increases have fallen particularly hard on younger Americans.