Easing inflation isn’t making these grocery items any cheaper, data shows
(NEXSTAR) – Though consumer prices rose again in October, the latest data from the Labor Department shows prices are rising at a slower rate. The annual inflation rate fell to 7.7 percent last month compared to 8.2 percent in September. Economists expected the annual inflation rate to fall to 7.9 percent, according to consensus projections.
The Consumer Price Index shows prices rose 0.4 percent in October, slower than the 0.6 percent projected by economists. Cooling inflation is a promising sign for policymakers hoping to bring down inflation without causing a recession.
Prices on some grocery store staples also seem to be easing, according to the CPI. That includes certain cuts of beef, milk, and produce. For some of these items, prices are down as much as 1 or 2 percent compared to September.
For more items, though, October prices were up compared to those in September and October 2021.
The hardest hit item is eggs, the CPI data shows. Compared to the same time last year, egg prices are up 43 percent. The price difference is smaller between September and October at 10.1 percent. Eggs have been expensive all year largely because of a nationwide bird flu outbreak, supply chain challenges, and high feed costs.
Large year-over-year price changes are still being reported among staples like butter, margarine, and flour. The cost of margarine is up over 47 percent compared to October 2021. Butter and flour prices are up 26.7 percent and 24.6 percent, respectively.
Prices for these items are up more than 15 percent over the last year:
- Cereals: 15.9 percent
- Rice: 17.1 percent
- White bread: 15.3 percent
- Cookies: 16.8
- Crackers: 18.7
- Frozen/refrigerated bakery products: 18.6
- Frankfurters: 15.2
- Lunchmeats: 19.1
- Turkey and other uncooked poultry: 16.9
- Lettuce: 17.7
- Canned fruits and vegetables: 18.7, 18
- Frozen vegetables: 16.7
- Roasted coffee: 15.6
- Salad dressing: 19.7
- Soups: 17
- Olives, pickles, relishes: 17.5
- Frozen/freeze dried prepared foods: 16.4
Though some groceries are cheaper than they were in September, the still-high prices are likely an unwelcome sign to those shopping for their Thanksgiving meal. Economists with the American Farm Bureau Foundation were already predicting in early October that record-high turkey prices and expensive price tags on other items will likely lead to costly Thanksgiving meals for many.
Even amid a tentative easing of inflation, the Federal Reserve will likely continue raising interest rates to cool the economy and stem inflation. Yet data released Thursday raises the possibility that the Fed could at least slow its rate hikes — a prospect that sent U.S. markets soaring.
Many economists fear that the central bank’s maneuvers could spark a recession by next year. The Fed has raised its benchmark interest rate six times in sizable increments this year, heightening the risk that the cost of borrowing money for homes, autos and other big-ticket items, will tip the world’s largest economy into recession.
Lorie Logan, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, said Thursday’s figures “were a welcome relief,” but added “there is still a long way to go.”
The Hill’s Sylvan Lane and the Associated Press contributed to this report.