By CASEY HARPER
THE CENTER SQUARE SENIOR REPORTER
(The Center Square) — The federal government released its latest inflation data Tuesday, drawing fresh fire for President Joe Biden as the cost of living continues to rise.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released its Consumer Price Index showing a 0.5% increase in January, part of a 6.4% increase over the last year. This was a larger increase than in December, when prices rose only 0.1%.
Notably, shelter, food and gas costs have risen significantly.
“The index for shelter was by far the largest contributor to the monthly all items increase, accounting for nearly half of the monthly all items increase, with the indexes for food, gasoline, and natural gas also contributing,” BLS said.
Shelter costs rose 0.7% in January and 7.9% in the last year, according to BLS.
Prices have now gone up 14.4% since President Biden took office.
“This past month saw across-the-board increases in shelter, food, and energy costs,” said Sen. Katie Boyd Britt, R-Ala. “Alabama families, retirees, and small businesses are being crushed at every turn.”
The energy index rose 2% in January with a 2.4% increase in gasoline.
As The Center Square previously reported, food and energy costs have risen faster than the overall trends, with food costs increasing 10.1% in the last year and energy costs rising 8.7%.
Food costs rose 0.5% in January. Democrats and some experts argue inflation is cooling, pointing out that these increases are smaller than the higher spikes when inflation growth was at its peak earlier in the Biden administration.
“Democrats continue to assert that inflation under Biden is going down,” said Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo. “Do they understand that Americans don’t get the thousands of dollars back that they spent as a result of their peak 9% inflation? Americans are financially worse off under Biden.”
President Biden pointed to the 6.4% annual increase, which has dropped significantly from last year.
“Today’s data shows annual inflation falling for seven months, real wages for working Americans up over that time, and food and gas prices down – getting breathing room to families,” President Biden said. “All while unemployment stayed at its lowest level since 1969 and job growth remained resilient.”
As the need for a debt ceiling deal grows, Republicans point to the latest inflation increase as a reason to cut down on federal spending.
“House Republicans’ first step to fighting inflation is to put a stop to the wasteful Washington spending that has robbed workers of two months’ pay and jeopardized America’s long-term fiscal health,” said Rep. Jason Smith, R-Mo. “With the ongoing negotiations over the debt ceiling, President Biden and congressional Democrats have an opportunity to come to the table and work with Republicans to find common-sense solutions to root out wasteful spending that is fueling inflation.”
The Federal Reserve is expected to continue raising rates this year to combat higher prices.
“Markets were warned that the inflation report could indicate that still higher rent prices, coupled with gasoline prices that had edged higher last month would underscore the Fed’s message that more work was needed to tackle inflation,” said Quincy Krosby, chief global strategist at LPL Financial. “The futures market understood the Fed’s message and added another rate hike for 2023, with March and May Fed meetings announcing rate hikes.”
Casey Harper works at The Center Square’s Washington, D.C., bureau.