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Inflation Has Gone K-Shaped in the Pandemic Like Everything Else

  • Prices of food, gasoline eat into budget of poorer households
  • Inflation gap adds to inequalities Biden has vowed to redress
Some of the biggest price hikes of recent months have come in gasoline.

Some of the biggest price hikes of recent months have come in gasoline.

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
Updated on

Low-income Americans bore the brunt of job losses when the pandemic arrived. Now they’re getting hit hardest by price increases as the economy recovers.

The headline consumer inflation rate in the U.S. remains subdued, at 1.7% -- but it masks large differences in what people actually buy.

Some of the biggest price hikes of recent months, for example, have come in gasoline. A gallon of regular is up 75 cents since late last year –- adding more than $60 a month to the budget of someone who fills up with 20 gallons a week.

Food-price inflation is running at more than double the headline rate, and staples like household cleaning products have also climbed.