According to a report from the Labor Department released Wednesday, consumer prices rose .4 percent from August to September, and have risen 5.4 percent over the last year. The increase is the largest year-over-year rise in inflation since 2008.
The burst of inflation seen since last fall reflects what many people have been noticing: sharply higher prices for food, energy, furniture, cars, televisions, and other largely imported goods. The pandemic has shut down factories in Asia and slowed U.S. port operations, leaving container ships anchored at sea and consumers and businesses paying more for goods that may not arrive for months.
“Price increases stemming from ongoing supply chain bottlenecks amid strong demand will keep the rate of inflation elevated, as supply/demand imbalances are only gradually resolved,” said Kathy Bostjancic, an economist at consulting firm Oxford Economics.
Two of the places the United States is seeing the largest bottlenecks are the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in California. The two account for 40 percent of all shipping containers entering the U.S. On Wednesday, the White House announced it worked out a deal with the Port of Los Angeles to turn it into a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week operation.
“This expansion means the Port of Los Angeles has nearly doubled the hours that cargo will be able to move out of its docks and on highways,” The White House said in a press release. The Long Beach port has been operating 24 hours daily for seven days for roughly the past three weeks. In addition, the White House announced Walmart, FedEx and UPS have made commitments to unload during off-peak hours.
One group that may be benefitting from the rise in consumer prices is social security recipients. According to estimates released by the Social Security Administration Wednesday, recipients will get a 5.9 percent increase in benefits for 2022. That’s the largest cost of living adjustment in 39 years.
With the increase, the estimated average Social Security payment for a retired worker will be $1,657 a month next year. A typical couple’s benefits would rise by $154 to $2,753 per month.