Another inflation report, another mixed bag.
Overall inflation increased by a red-hot 5.3% between August 2020 and this August, based on the federal government’s latest Consumer Price Index. Inflation increased 0.3% between July and August.
On its surface, that news offers plenty of fuel for concerns that higher prices could create the type of soaring prices last seen in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
But just like in July, the number was not as bad as feared. Forecasters had expected prices to rise 5.4% in August.
So, while this month’s report offers fodder for both optimists and pessimists alike, there is no question that prices are climbing right now. And for some goods and services, they are soaring.
Following is a look at items whose rising prices are causing headaches for millions of Americans. All have seen price increases of more than 15% over the past 12 months.
Each price rise indicates the change from August 2020 to August 2021.
8. Uncooked beef steaks
Price increase: 16.6%
A surge in coronavirus cases, potentially higher tax rates, a slow start by your favorite football team — throwing a steak or two on the grill and sipping on an ice-cold beverage can seem like the perfect tonic in trying times.
Alas, even that simple pleasure is falling victim to rising prices. Looking for a cheaper alternative to steaks? Uncooked ground beef is up a “mere” 6.9% since last August.
7. Bacon and related products
Price increase: 17%
While the price of a steak dinner is rising, the trend is even worse if you love a bacon breakfast.
Once again, an alternative might be in order: The cost of breakfast sausage and related products is up an easier-to-stomach 5.5% since August 2020.
6. Hotels and motels
Price increase: 19.6 %
For the second straight month, the cost of lodging has jumped. Given such a huge year-over-year increase in August — 19.6% — it is probably little comfort that prices rose a little less than they did in July, when year-over-year inflation in this category clocked in at 24.1%.
To learn more about cutting travel costs, check out:
5. Utility (piped) gas service
Price increase: 21.1%
This line item refers to natural gas service. The cost of this fossil fuel is surging just as the demand for fall and winter heating is about to ignite. Brrrrr!
4. Fuel oil and other fuels
Price increase: 28.6%
As with natural gas, fuel oil and other non-motor fuels heat up our homes. Fuel oil itself is up 33.2% over the past 12 months, while a separate line item in this category — propane, kerosene and firewood — is up 22.6% year over year.
3. Used cars and trucks
Price increase: 31.9%
This is another category where bad news is not horrible news. Yes, prices for used cars and trucks are much higher. But the 31.9% year-over-year rise in August was less stratospheric than the 41.7% year-over-year rocket blast recorded in July.
If you can wait to shop for a car, you probably should. But if you need something now, check out “8 Tips for Buying Your Next Car for Less.”
2. Motor fuel
Price increase: 42.5%
In July, we said, “The next time you go to fill ‘er up, expect to open your wallet and empty ‘er out.” Motor fuel prices were up 41.6% year over year in July.
The situation didn’t get any better in August. In fact, it got worse. Overall, motor fuel prices jumped 42.5% year over year. Here is the breakdown for this category:
- Gasoline, unleaded regular: 43.9%
- Gasoline, unleaded midgrade: 38.3%
- Gasoline, unleaded premium: 35.4%
- Other motor fuels: 36.2%
Ready for a bicycle ride, anyone?
For tips on making a tank of gas last longer, read, “8 Bad Driving Habits That Are Costing You.”
1. Car and truck rentals
Price increase: 52.6%
Once again, car and truck rentals are the ignominious winners of the inflation wars. After rising 73.5% year over year in July, prices were up again on a 12-month basis in August.
As we have explained, there are several reasons for this increase. You can learn more about that in “Prices Are Soaring on These 7 Items.”
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