Inflation reaches 40-year high, making it harder to afford everyday staples

(The Center Square) – Inflation remained painfully high in May, with consumer prices hitting a new four-decade high that is causing financial strain for Illinoisans.

The Labor Department reports the consumer price index, which is a measure of the price for everyday goods like gasoline, food and rent, rose 8.6% in May from a year ago.

Fuel prices are a big part of the story. Gasoline, which averages over $5.50 in Illinois, costs nearly 50% more than it did a year ago. In all, fuel prices jumped nearly 17% in May, pushing the one-year increase to a staggering 106.7%.

Republicans are taking the opportunity to slam the Biden administration’s policies and spending over the past year as the catalyst for the latest numbers.

“This administration is fully to blame for soaring prices, $5/gallon gas, and Americans panicking about what’s next for our economy,” U.S. Rep. Kat Cammack, R-Fl, posted, criticizing President Joe Biden specifically. “You did it, Joe!”

Chuck Casto, researcher for the small business referral network Alignable, said Illinois businesses are concerned they may have to close their doors if prices continue to rise.

“In Illinois, we’re looking at 49% of the people we polled said they were worried they might have to shut down because of inflation and everything that goes into that like elevated gas prices and elevated rent,” Casto said.

Grocery prices rose 11.9% annually, the most since 1979, while electricity increased 12%, the most since August 2006.

All the gloomy economic news likely spells trouble for Biden, whose approval ratings have sunk to new lows ahead of midterm elections later this year.

All eyes are on the Federal Reserve and how aggressive it will be with interest rate hikes. The Fed is expected to raise its target funds rate by a half point next week.

Some economists are fearful the fed will go too far in tightening policy, risking weaker spending by consumers.

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