WASHINGTON (AP) — The costs of gas, food and other necessities jumped in May, raising inflation to a new four-decade high and giving American households no respite from rising costs.
Consumer prices surged 8.6% last month from 12 months earlier, faster than April’s year-over-year surge of 8.3%.
On a month-to-month basis, prices jumped 1% from April to May, a steep rise from the 0.3% increase from March to April.
Much higher gas prices were to blame for most of that increase. The average price of regular unleaded gas in Bend Friday was $5.60, up $2.08 from the same day a year ago. Diesel was $6.25, up $2.81 in a year.
Across Oregon, the average for unleaded was $5.52 and diesel was $6.14.
America’s rampant inflation is imposing severe pressures on families, forcing them to pay much more for food, gas and rent and reducing their ability to afford discretionary items, from haircuts to electronics.
Lower-income and Black and Hispanic Americans, in particular, are struggling because, on average, a larger proportion of their income is consumed by necessities.
Some evidence in recent weeks had suggested that inflation might be moderating, particularly for long-lasting goods that were caught up in supply chain snarls and shortages last year. But that trend appeared to reverse itself in May, with used car prices rising 1.8% after having dropped for three straight months.
Small businesses are facing ‘summer of uncertainty’
Small businesses that depend on outdoor crowds and free-spending tourists aren’t sure what to expect this summer. Consumers likely have a lot of pent-up demand after more than two years of the pandemic.
The U.S. Travel Association predicts travel spending will be slightly above pre-pandemic levels. But consumers are also facing some significant financial headwinds. Inflation is making day-to-day living more expensive, which could leave less money for discretionary spending.
Gas prices are up more than 60% from a year ago and hotel rooms and airfare are pricier as well, putting pressure on travel budgets.
And COVID-19 remains a looming presence.
Travis Pittman contributed to this report.