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US prices rose 4.3% annually in August: Commerce Dept

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US spending and income increased in August, but so did inflation, according to government data./AFP
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Oct 02, 2021 - 08:26 AM

WASHINGTON — Inflation continued to rise in the United States in August, while spending and incomes also climbed, according to government data released Friday.

The Commerce Department’s personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index was up 4.3 percent from August 2020 as the world’s largest economy struggles with supply chain delays and shortages amid its bounceback from the pandemic’s business closures.

Income rose 0.2 percent that month, in line with analysts’ forecasts, and spending climbed slightly above expectations at 0.8 percent.

The rise in income was attributable both to increases in wages but also to government policies such as advance tax credit payment to families, though those were offset by a decrease in pandemic unemployment benefits that month, the Commerce Department said.

Consumers split the $130.5 billion increase in spending almost evenly between goods and services.

Among the former, more was spent on food and beverages and on recreational goods, but less on motor vehicles and parts as they grapple with a shortage of semiconductors that’s harmed production. The increase in services was “widespread,” according to the report.

The rise in the price index comes amid concerns about inflation in the United States as Congress mulls President Joe Biden’s massive spending proposals and the Federal Reserve signals it may soon start cutting its pandemic stimulus policies.

The year-on-year rate was 0.1 percent higher than the month prior, and if the volatile food and energy sectors are excluded, inflation was up 3.6 percent from August 2020, the same rate as the two months prior.

Compared to July, prices rose at an unchanged 0.4 percent.

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