This is a first in the United States in forty years. Inflation there reached 7% in 2021, the highest figure since 1982, in the wake of the two oil shocks of the 1970s. Excluding energy and food, the increase amounts to 5.5%, according to published figures Wednesday, January 12 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, the statistical agency of the Department of Labor), a strong surge compared to November 2021 (4.9%).
It has now been three months since the increase in prices has been at an annual rate of over 6%. She has become the number one political subject for President Joe Biden, especially since salaries do not follow. They may have grown nominally by 4.7% year on year, according to the BLS, the pace is slowing, since this increase was 4.8% in November 2021. As a result, real weekly wages have fallen by about 2.3%, according to the BLS. The purchasing power of Americans is declining.
In detail, over one year, the price of gasoline has increased by half and that of new vehicles, by 11.8% (+ 37% for used ones). The cost of housing, for its part, appreciated by 4.1%, that of transport, by 4.2%, and that of food, by 6.1%. It is therefore a question of widespread inflation in the economy, even if this cannot be compared with the inflation-wage spiral which led to the stagflation of the 1970s. By taking the evolution from month to month, the outlook is less worrying: prices increased by 0.5 point between November and December 2021, which is less than the two previous months (0.9 in October, 0.8 in November)
This eagerly awaited figure comes in the wake of those of employment, which disappointed with 200,000 job creations in December 2021. Over the year, the country created 6.4 million jobs, a record that is being used. Joe Biden, but the absolute level of employment, which has always served as a benchmark in the United States, remains 3.6 million lower compared to February 2020, before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
A failure for the US Federal Reserve
In contrast, the unemployment rate fell to 3.9% in December 2021, from 6.7% a year earlier. This paradoxical phenomenon is linked to the withdrawal of Americans from the labor market. Indeed, the employment participation rate is 61.9%, against 63.4% before the health crisis. This decline can be explained by several reasons: retirements, women who do not return to employment as long as the care of their children at school is not ensured while the pandemic continues, and a phenomenon called the “great resignation”: young Americans no longer accept to work under any conditions and at any cost.
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