Local inflation rate takes biggest jump since 1980 to 5.4% – Daily News

on Nov10
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Your checkbook isn’t lying. Local inflation is soaring at a pace not seen since 1980.

Los Angeles and Orange counties’ slice of the Consumer Price Index jumped at a 5.4% annual rate in October compared with just 0.7% a year earlier as the economy was struggling with coronavirus-related challenges. The upswing is being felt across the nation, too. U.S. inflation was 6.2% vs. 1.2% in October 2020.

Inflation’s culprits range from greater demand for goods and services created by a recovering economy to spending sprees from folks emerging from coronavirus lockdowns and various kinks in the global supply chain.

These pressures have sharply boosted the local prices of things such as gasoline (up 39.5% in 12 months, according to the local CPI), used vehicles (up 25%), and big-ticket home furnishings (up 8.4%).

So let my trusty spreadsheet offer some historical perspective to this cost-of-living upheaval.

October’s 5.4% overall inflation rate was the highest local reading since July 2008, in the days before a housing boom imploded into the Great Recession. And since 1983, after the high inflation of the 1970s, the local CPI has soared faster only 15 times.

How quickly inflation soared this year might be the most stunning change.

October 2020’s 0.7% rate tied a five-year low. Next came a 4.7 percentage-point jump in inflation over 12 months. It’s the 12th largest one-year increase since 1960. The last time L.A.-O.C. was hit by a larger one-year pop was in July 1980, when inflation went to 15.8% from 10.5%.

You see, the region has been relatively spoiled, inflation-wise, in the post-Great Recession years.

LA-OC’s cost of living rose on average 1.6% in last year’s pandemic-scarred economy after rising 2.9% in 2016-2019 and 1.2% in 2009-15.

Note that we often see faster inflation in boom years. In the bubble era of 2000 to 2008, CPI grew at a 3.4% annual pace in LA-OC vs. 2.6% in the slower-growth 1990s.

What’s up

By CPI math, here are October’s inflation rates for key LA-OC spending categories …

Home energy: Costs are up 16.9% in the past year.

Food: Grocery prices rose by 5.5%. Eating out also got 5.9% pricier.

Housing: Overall, this expense rose 3.1% as rents were 1.5% pricier.

Medical: Hospital and doctor bills were 1.9% costlier.

All local services: 3.5% more expensive.

Apparel: Clothing was 1% costlier.

Vehicles: It’s not just used cars. New ones are 9.5% pricier — if you can find one.


Inland Empire: The inflation rate to the east was 6.5% two months ago, the latest bi-monthly reading for Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

Elsewhere in the West: Bay Area inflation in October was 3.8%. Seattle was at 6.5% and 7.1% for Phoenix.

Extremes: Highest of 23 metro areas? Atlanta at 7.9%. Lowest? Bay Area’s 3.8%.

Jonathan Lansner is business columnist for the Southern California News Group. He can be reached at jlansner@scng.com

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