Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street in New York City on February 18. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
March 10 (UPI) -- Inflation in the United States continues to show annual increases not seen in 40 years, due to a variety of factors.
The Labor Department said in its monthly Consumer Price Index on Thursday that inflation rose by 7.9% in the 12 months ending in February. That's the steepest 12-month increase since 1982.
Thursday's report shows the same pattern that the department's previous two showed -- significant increases over the past 12 months.
From January to February, inflation rose by 0.8%, the department said.
AAA said on Thursday that the national average for gasoline in the United States has risen to $4.32 per gallon, the highest average on record. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
"The 12-month increase has been steadily rising and is now the largest since the period ending January 1982," the department said in a statement.
Without food and energy prices, inflation increased by 6.4% over the 12 months ending in February. The energy index rose by 3.5% over January and 25.6% since February 2021.
Analysts expect next month's report to show another rise in the energy index, as Russia's war in Ukraine and its impact on gas prices were not accounted for in Thursday's report.
AAA said on Thursday that the national average for gasoline in the United States is $4.32 per gallon, a significant increase over the past few days and the highest average mark on record.
Increases in housing costs helped drive the increase, the department said.
"The shelter index was by far the biggest factor in the increase, with a broad set of indexes also contributing, including those for recreation, household furnishings and operations, motor vehicle insurance, personal care and airline fares."
Inflation continues to be a major concern among Americans and could play a significant role against Democrats in the upcoming 2022 midterm elections.
"Today's economic data tells the tale of two recoveries," President Joe Biden said in a statement after the report was released.
"Our jobs recovery remains strong. New unemployment claims remain low, as jobs are created at a record level. The rate of people on unemployment insurance is the lowest since 1970 -- more than 50 years. And private sector job growth is strong.
"At the same time, today's inflation report is a reminder that Americans' budgets are being stretched by price increases and families are starting to feel the impacts of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin's price hike."
Biden said he is working to counter rising inflation and reduce hardship among Americans. He noted, for example, tens of millions of barrels of oil released from the strategic reserve earlier this month.
"I want to be clear: We can do all this, and reduce the huge federal budget deficit that I inherited from my predecessor," he added. "Earlier this week, we learned that after reducing the deficit last year -- for the first time since 2015 ... we are on track to cut the deficit this year by over $1 trillion."