Several Western states have become a hotbed for inflation in the US
The Labor Department reported on Tuesday that consumer prices in the Mountain region that includes Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico surged by a stunning 10.4% in March from the previous year. That is well above the national average of 8.5%, which is already the fastest pace since December 1981.
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That’s at least in part due to soaring real estate prices in the Rocky Mountain region as thousands of Americans look to relocate. In Phoenix, Arizona, for instance, the typical home sold for $435,000 in December – 28% more than the previous year, according to real estate brokerage firm Redfin. The average price of a home in Colorado jumped by close to 20% over the past year.
Other states are also experiencing inflation that’s well above the national average. Prices were up 9.5% in a handful of states, including Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana. Prices in the South Atlantic, meanwhile, shot up by 9.2%; that region encompasses Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.
By comparison, prices in the mid-Atlantic – New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania – were far lower, climbing 7.2% in March from a year ago, slightly below the national average. The New England region also experienced inflation rates slightly below average, with prices rising 7.4% year-over-year in March.
Rising inflation is eating away at strong wage gains that American workers have seen in recent months. Real average hourly earnings rose just 0.1% in January from the previous month, as the 0.6% inflation increase eroded the 0.7% total wage gain, according to the Labor Department. On an annual basis, real earnings actually declined 1.7% in January.
On average, Americans are shelling out an extra $276 a month on goods and services because of inflation, according to a new Moody’s Analytics analysis.
The inflation spike has been bad news for President Biden, who has seen his approval rating plunge as consumer prices rise. The White House has blamed the price increases on supply chain bottlenecks and other pandemic-induced disruptions in the economy, while Republicans have pinned it on the president’s massive spending agenda.
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Following the data release, Biden acknowledged that higher inflation is creating more financial stress for American families. But he claimed there are “signs that we will make it through this challenge.”
“It’s a real bump in the road,” he told reporters at the White House. “It does affect families when you walk into a grocery store and you’re paying more for whatever you’re purchasing. It matters to people when you’re paying more for gas, although in some states we’ve got the price down below three bucks a gallon, but the point is it’s not gone down quickly enough. But I think it will.”