The Latest Inflation Report Shows Record Prices. Biden Calls It a Victory.

grocery store
Credit: Flickr user Anthony Albright
March 14, 2023

After the Labor Department on Tuesday released its monthly inflation report, President Joe Biden declared it a victory, pointing to a decrease in the inflation rate from its record peak last summer as proof of his success in "working to lower costs for hard-working Americans." That point may be of little relief for many Americans, however, as February's inflation report showed prices of many essential goods up more than 10 percent from a year ago and general inflation outpacing wages.

The price of grocery store food surged 10.2 percent in February from the year before. Several energy services were also elevated from last year, with electricity up 12.9 percent and utility gas up 14.3 percent.

Instead of addressing the explosion in prices of those goods over the last year, Biden highlighted the decrease in the inflation rate from months ago, saying in a statement that "annual inflation is down by a third from this summer ... the slowest annual increase since September 2021."

While inflation has fallen to 6 percent since the summer, when it exceeded 9 percent and reached 40-year highs, price increases are still outpacing wage growth. According to the Labor Department, real average earnings in February decreased by an annual rate of 1.3 percent.

While Biden has touted his efforts to rein in inflation, some experts have pointed to the president's policies, including his $2 trillion American Rescue Plan, as playing a major role in creating record inflation. Rep. Jim Clyburn (S.C.), then the Democratic House majority whip, in October said the Democratic caucus knew Biden's legislation would lead to inflation when they passed them.

As annual inflation has eased slightly in recent months, Americans remain pessimistic about the economy. A February Gallup poll found 68 percent of Americans believe the economy is getting worse.