Americans received a small respite from the steep price hikes they’ve been enduring for four decades as inflation eased off less than expected in January. The first measure of inflation for 2024, the Consumer Price Index, showed that prices rose by 3.1% for the 12 months ended in January, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data released Tuesday. That’s a significant step back from December’s 3.4% rate and a dramatic cooling from the 6.4% increase seen in January 2023. On a monthly basis, CPI rose by 0.3%, with stubbornly high shelter costs accounting for two-thirds of the gain.
While consumers got some relief from falling gas prices, food prices (which thankfully are no longer outpacing overall inflation) rose at their highest monthly rate in a year. However, food prices kept going up and were a real pain point for many Americans, according to Robert Frick, corporate economist with Navy Federal Credit Union. “Food prices kept going up, and that’s a real pain point,” he told CNN. “There’s the rate of inflation, which is coming down, then there’s the weight of inflation, which continues to mount.” Economists were expecting inflation to ease to 0.2% from December and slow to 2.9% annually, according to FactSet consensus estimates.
Overall inflation has risen at an average of 3% or above for the past 34 months – the longest streak since the late 1980s and early 1990s – as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI). While annual price increases surged post-pandemic and peaked at an astounding 9.1% in June