Pico Rivera street gets renamed after Mariachi Star Vicente Fernández. Photo courtesy of Matt Gush on Shutterstock

Increasing prices for food, rents and health care throughout the Riverside metropolitan area in the last two months were offset by lower energy bills, but pocketbook pressure was still up 8.4% locally over the last year, federal officials said Thursday.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ bimonthly Consumer Price Index for the Riverside area showed that food prices propelled living costs 1.8% higher throughout the metro area, which covers northwestern Riverside County as well as the cities of Ontario and San Bernardino.

“Over the last year, food prices rose 11.5%,” the BLS stated, adding that “cereals and bakery products,” as well as poultry and eggs, led the pack in price increases.

Rents ticked up .5% in the previous two months. Over the 12-month period ending Sept. 30, they were up 6.3%.

The BLS said that energy prices slackened considerably in the months of August and September, declining 4.5%, principally due to lower pump costs, dovetailing with nationwide trends. The drop contributed to the bimonthly CPI rate for the Riverside area being unchanged from the June to July period, officials said.

Year-over-year local energy costs were up 23.6%, according to figures.

Health care costs were up 3.6% in the region in the last two months, and 9.1% year-over-year, the BLS said.

In the 12-month period ending in September of 2021, the local CPI registered a 6.8% year-over-year increase. The 8.4% rate rise from September of 2021 through September of 2022 reflects the galloping pace of inflation impacting most sectors of the economy, with no comparable increases for the Riverside metro area since the local CPI was first published in 2018, data showed.

The BLS said that nationally the Urban Consumer CPI was up .4% in September, but for the 12-month period ending Sept. 30, 2022, it was up 8.2%, a 40-year high.

The accelerating consumer price hikes have been blamed by the Biden administration on the war in Ukraine and consequent energy supply disruptions, but critics have pointed to the administration’s domestic energy policies, as well as spending, including the flood of dollars contained in relief packages, as root causes.

U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen acknowledged during congressional testimony in June that inflation is the “top economic problem” facing the nation and that it would not be “transitory,” as she and Federal Reserve Bank Chair Jerome Powell had initially predicted.

Powell said during the summer that inflation began a sharp upward trajectory in the last half of 2021 and he could not pinpoint when inflationary pressures might ease

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *