US inflation kept moving higher in March and the Producer Price Index is the latest data point showing the price pressure.
The index, which measures what America’s producers get paid for their goods and services on average over time, rose 11.2% in the year ended in March, not adjusted for seasonal swings, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Wednesday.
It was the biggest jump in prices since the data series began in November 2010, exceeding analysts’ expectations and the double-digit jumps recorded in the first two months of the year.
Without energy and food, the PPI stood at 9.2% over the same time frame. Stripping out trade services as well, the index increased 7% over the 12-month period.
These numbers show that while energy costs play a huge role in the price spikes, there is still plenty of inflation beneath the surface.
“The end result is likely a big oncoming squeeze in profit margins,” said Peter Boockvar, chief investment officer at Bleakley Advisory Group, in emailed comments. “It’s a good thing earnings season is upon us so we can measure to what extent.”
Between February and March, prices for finished goods and services rose 1.4% with seasonal adjustments. That was more than expected and more than in each of the prior two months. Over half of the increase seen in goods prices was due to a 5.7% price jump for energy products.
Diesel fuel prices rose 20.4%, for example, and the cost of gasoline, jet fuel and electrical power also increased. Fresh and dry vegetables, iron and steel scrap got more expensive, as well.
US oil and gasoline prices soared in March on the back of the Ukraine conflict, which threw a wrench into global commodities markets.
“Not to be forgotten amidst developments over the past month in Ukraine is that domestic supply chain issues in US food manufacturing are making only staggered progress toward resolution. This supply and demand imbalance will also continue to put upward pressure on food prices for producers, and thus US households, in the coming months,” said PNC senior economist Kurt Rankin.
Even after stripping out the more volatile components like energy, food and trade services, March prices on finished goods and services increased 0.9%, the biggest jump since January 2021 and almost twice what analysts were expecting.
Wednesday’s data comes just one day after the Consumer Price Index showed that the cost of consumer goods and services surged by 8.5% year over year, the highest recorded level since 1981.