Media highlights ‘stubbornly high’ August inflation, ‘despite’ falling gas prices: ‘Unwelcome news’ for Biden

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The New York Times, The Washington Post and more reported on Tuesday that the August inflation numbers remained “stubbornly high” despite falling gas prices, as the price of groceries climbed 0.7%. 

The Times reported that price increases did not “moderate as much as anticipated in August, unwelcome news for the Biden administration and the Federal Reserve and a sign of the extent to which fast-climbing costs continue to plague consumers.” 

Economists predicted that inflation would decrease between July and August, but it rose 0.1% on a monthly basis. 

“While gas prices and used car and truck costs have begun to dip, other prices are rising fast enough to fully offset those declines: Prices climbed by 0.1 percent on a headline basis over the course of the past month as prices for meals at restaurants, rents and new vehicles picked up,” the New York Times report said. 

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Family-sized General Mills and Quaker Cereal aisle in a grocery store.

Family-sized General Mills and Quaker Cereal aisle in a grocery store. (Lindsey Nicholson/UCG/Universal Images Group/Getty Images)

Inflation rose 8.3% in August from last year. In July, inflation rose 8.5%. 

“A number of economists had been hopeful that falling energy prices in recent weeks would be enough to finally cool inflation, but government data released Tuesday showed how large price increases continue to persist on core items that make up a central part of most families’ budgets,” the Washington Post report on the inflation numbers said. 

The report noted that the 8.3% headline number was “higher than expected given the sharp decrease in gasoline prices in recent weeks.”

The Associated Press and NBC News described the August numbers as “stubbornly high” or “stubbornly elevated.” 

“U.S. inflation slowed for a second straight month on a sharp fall in gas prices, yet excluding energy most other items got more expensive in August, a sign that inflation remains a heavy burden for American households,” the AP report said. 

Biden released a statement after the inflation numbers were released and said “overall, prices have been essentially flat in our country these last two month.” He added that there was more work to be done and “some price increases” slowed “from the month before at the grocery store.” Food prices rose 11.4% from last year, according the report, which is the highest increase since 1979. 

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People shop in a supermarket as rising inflation affects consumer prices in Los Angeles, California, U.S., June 13, 2022. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

People shop in a supermarket as rising inflation affects consumer prices in Los Angeles, California, U.S., June 13, 2022. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Media outlets also noted the “political role” inflation is playing in the midterms. “Inflation Report Dampens Biden’s Attempts to Celebrate the Economy,” a New York Times headline read.

The Washington Post suggested Americans were feeling better about the economy as gas prices have fallen. “Inflation has lately been losing some potency with voters,” the report said. 

“Yet the signs that inflation might have peaked — or will soon — could bolster Democrats’ prospects in the midterm elections and may already have contributed to slightly higher public approval ratings for Biden. In his speeches, Biden has generally stopped referring to the impact of high prices on family budgets,” the AP said. 

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a rally hosted by the Democratic National Committee

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a rally hosted by the Democratic National Committee (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

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Biden, during remarks on Monday at Boston Logan International Airport, praised the decline in gas prices and said that they were seeing “hopeful signs” that inflation was easing. 

“I said last spring that our top economic priority was to bring down inflation without giving up on all the gains American workers made in the last year.  But there’s more to do — a lot more to do.  The American people should have confidence that we are on the right track, that we’re seeing real progress,” he said.