Labor Report Shows Inflation Isn't Going Away

Chairman of the Federal Reserve nominee Jerome Powell / Getty Images
March 12, 2024

Prices rose again last month, according to a Tuesday report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the latest sign that inflation remains a persistent issue as President Joe Biden seeks reelection.

The Consumer Price Index for all items increased 0.4 percent from January to February, more than the previous month's rise of 0.3 percent, the bureau said. Year over year, prices were up 3.2 percent before seasonal adjustment, which was also greater than January's increase of 3.1 percent.

Removing more volatile food and gas prices to get "core" inflation, costs rose 0.4 percent for the month and 3.8 percent for the year. Both of those numbers were higher than economists' projected totals of 0.3 percent and 3.7 percent, according to Yahoo Finance.

Tuesday's report makes it less clear that inflation is falling to the Federal Reserve's target of 2 percent annually. Chair Jerome Powell has said he hopes to cut rates in 2024, and some projections indicated that the central bank would do so this month. That forecast has tempered, however, with the Federal Reserve now expected to cut rates in June.

Economists told Yahoo Finance and the Associated Press that, while Thursday's report is not ideal, there is underlying evidence that the economy is still healthy.

In the months leading up to February, inflation was higher than expected in both January and December—though the government later revised the December numbers, making them lower than first reported.

Biden has seen his approval ratings suffer in the wake of record inflation, which peaked at 9.1 percent in June 2022, during his administration. Polls have found Americans are pessimistic about the economy, which they described as one of the biggest problems facing the country in a Gallup poll last month.

Biden's approval rating is 40 percent and his disapproval rating is 55.8 percent, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average.