Economic concerns validated as inflation rate climbs to 7%, highest since 1982.

Today’s news wasn’t surprising and it isn’t good. Inflation last month reached 7%, the highest annual rate since 1982. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.5 percent
in December on a seasonally adjusted basis after rising 0.8 percent in November,
the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months,
the all items index increased 7.0 percent before seasonal adjustment.

Increases in the indexes for shelter and for used cars and trucks were the
largest contributors to the seasonally adjusted all items increase. The food
index also contributed, although it increased less than in recent months,
rising 0.5 percent in December. The energy index declined in December, ending
a long series of increases; it fell 0.4 percent as the indexes for gasoline
and natural gas both decreased.

The Associated Press writes,

Rising prices have wiped out the healthy pay increases that many Americans have been receiving, making it harder for households, especially lower-income families, to afford basic expenses. Polls show that inflation has started displacing even the coronavirus as a public concern, making clear the political threat it poses to President Biden and congressional Democrats.

We have cited recent polling in our state confirming that economic concerns, including inflation, are top-of-mind for Washington voters. Today’s numbers validate voters’ apprehension about the economy and the direction the state and nation are moving in. To that, we’ll add the recent AP-NORC Center poll. The AP reports,

A poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds that management of the coronavirus pandemic, once an issue that strongly favored President Joe Biden and his fellow Democrats, is beginning to recede in the minds of Americans. COVID-19 is increasingly overshadowed by concerns about the economy and personal finances — particularly inflation — which are topics that could lift Republicans.

Just 37% of Americans name the virus as one of their top five priorities for the government to work on in 2022, compared with 53% who said it was a leading priority at the same time a year ago. The economy outpaced the pandemic in the open-ended question, with 68% of respondents mentioning it in some way as a top 2022 concern. A similar percentage said the same last year, but mentions of inflation are much higher now: 14% this year, compared with less than 1% last year.

The news, confirming public opinion, should cause legislators to tap the brakes on spending increases this session and focus on economic relief for businesses and households facing strong economic headwinds.