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Letter: Reader surprised by inflation numbers

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Recently I received a letter from the office of Congressman Jim Baird noting that “Inflation is over 14% in Indiana.” I was quite surprised to read this, as the most recent inflation number for the country as a whole is 7.1% (https://www.bls.gov/cpi/). I therefore set out to see if I could find where this 14% comes from. The letter includes a footnote to a Fox Business article from August 2022. The closest thing I could find to 14% in the article is the statement that “prices increased 13.3% from January 2021 to July 2022.” Thus the 13.3% is not an annual rate of inflation, but the price increase over a year and a half. If we do not limit ourselves to annual rates, we can get any arbitrarily large number by going far enough back in time. The Fox Business article notes that the annual inflation rate was running at 8.5%, and since then inflation has fallen.

To see if Indiana might be different from rest of the country, I checked the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which produces both the Consumer Price Index and the Producer Price Index. The CPI is available for the Midwest and the Chicago area, both of which report an inflation rate of 6.8% for November 2022 compared to November 2021. The PPI is not available by region, and in November prices were 7.4% higher than a year ago. The Bureau of Economic Analysis reports the Personal Consumption Expenditure Price Index; this index is not available regionally, and the lastest available data indicate that prices in October 2022 were 6% higher than in October 2021.

Joyce Burnette

Crawfordsville

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