The annual inflation rate cooled for the second straight month, reaching 8.3% in August after peaking at 9.1% in June. Consumer prices continued to see relief in energy, helping drive down the annual rate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics report.
Monthly consumer prices rose 0.1 % from July to August. Gas prices continued to fall, dropping 10.6% for August after dropping 7.7% in July. Food prices rose 0.8%, up 11.4% year over year. Excluding those two categories, monthly core consumer prices rose 0.6% with used vehicles seeing a slight drop of 0.1%.
Annually, core consumer prices are up 6.3%. New vehicle prices remain up 10.1%, while apparel rose 5.1% from August 2021.
The August consumer price index confirms a downshift in annual inflation one week before the Federal Reserve’s September meeting, but it may not be enough for the Fed to consider pumping the brakes on rate hikes. Chair Jerome Powell has repeated his resolve to crush inflation multiple times over the past month, causing Goldman Sachs and others to forecast another 75 basis point rate increase in September.
An economic paper released last week predicted unemployment would need to rise higher than the Fed has predicted in order to bring down core inflation to the 2% target range. Unemployment is currently at 3.7%, while the Fed has said it would likely rise to 4.1% by the end of 2024 as rate hikes take hold.
Tightening economic conditions have already impacted sectors across the economy, resulting in layoffs affecting thousands of employees from real estate to tech.