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Janet Yellen Isn't Worrying About Your Personal Inflation Rate

Try telling a family paying college tuition that the U.S. economy is inflation-free
MOL Hungarian Oil & Gas Plc Gas Station
Photographer: Martin Divisek

To judge by government data, there’s essentially no inflation in the U.S. economy. The latest Consumer Price Index actually shows a 0.2 percent drop in prices from April 2014. 

Just try telling that to millions of renters who have seen their monthly rent checks rise 3.5 percent, on average, over the past year. Families shouldering college tuition payments or child care expenses, up 3.7 percent from last year, will also find the notion of an inflation-free economy hard to accept. The official inflation rate—the number Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is watching closely as she decides when to start raising interest rates—may bear little resemblance to the one experienced in everyday life, and the way inflation feels to any individual varies widely, based on demographics.