US inflation was even lower than expected in March: CPI
Inflation continues to be a problem in the United States and other parts of the world. In fact, many other developed countries have had higher inflation rates than the U.S.; according to Statista, inflation rates in European countries in January included 9.2. percent in Germany, 8.4 percent in the Netherlands and 10.7 percent in Italy.
But in March 2023, according to U.S. Bureau of the Labor Statistics (BLS) figures, the United States had its lowest inflation rate in almost two years.
Inflation in March was even lower than expected. The BLS' Consumer Price Index (CPI) had forecast 5.2 percent inflation for March, but March's inflation rate, according to BLS figures released on April 12, turned out to be 5.0 percent.
READ MORE: Economist Paul Krugman: Why the 'prophets of inflation doom' were wrong to predict 'stagflation'
Business Insider's Madison Hoff, in article published on April 12, notes that the BLS/CPI figures for March were the lowest since May 2021.
"Core CPI, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, increased by 5.6 percent year-over-year per data that wasn't seasonally adjusted," Hoff explains. "That's the same as the 5.6 percent forecast. It increased by a seasonally adjusted 0.4 percent month-over-month in March, matching the forecast of 0.4 percent."
Hoff adds, "March isn't the first month of cooling inflation. The U.S. has been seeing the year-over-year change in CPI slow down in recent months."
Nonetheless, millions of Americans continue to feel rent-stressed, especially in large urban centers.
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Forbes' Jonathan Ponciano observes that in March, "rent prices were 'by far' the biggest contributor to overall inflation, more than offsetting a decline in energy prices, which decreased 3.5 percent over the month, the government said."
The U.S. Federal Reserve, under Chairman Jerome Powell, has been gradually increasing interest rates in the hope of cooling off inflation. But Patrick Harker, president of the Philadelphia Federal Reserve, believes that the U.S. Fed may soon be done raising interest rates.
Harker, during an April 11 speech for the Wharton Initiative on Financial Policy and Regulation in Philly, told attendees, "Since the full impact of monetary policy actions can take as much as 18 months to work its way through the economy, we will continue to look closely at available data to determine what, if any, additional actions we may need to take."
Harker favors bringing interest rates up to around 5 percent and leaving them there.
At the Wharton gathering, Harker said, "I'm in the camp of getting up above 5 and then sitting there for a while."
Although inflation has been a problem during the Joe Biden era, liberal economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has stressed that the U.S. has had some of its lowest unemployment rates in more than half a century under Biden's presidency. In March, according to the BLS, the United States' unemployment rate was 3.5 percent.
READ MORE: How inflation is aggravating 'the hungry gap' and making even the most basic foods 'unaffordable': columnist
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