PHILADELPHIA, PA — Surging prices for food, gas and housing that are already putting the squeeze on Pennsylvania residents could go even higher, according to a report Thursday from the Labor Department that showed inflation jumped 7.9 percent over the 12-month period ending in February, the sharpest spike since 1982.
That means Pennsylvania residents paid more than 17 percent more for meat, poultry and eggs, 10.9 percent more for cereals, and 5.4 percent more for fruits and vegetables.
But that’s not the worst of it.
Energy costs increased 24 percent over the 12-month period. The biggest increases were in motor fuels, at 31.6 percent. Natural gas costs increased almost 24 percent.
The government report doesn’t reflect increases in already-high gas prices associated with President Joe Biden’s announcement Tuesday of a ban on Russian crude and other energy imports as punishment for its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
Much of Pennsylvania has seen historic gas prices, with the greater Philadelphia area average reaching a new all time record on Thursday at $4.49. It dipped slightly to $4.48 on Friday. Statewide, the average sits at $4.43.
Nationally, the average gas price stood at $4.32 a gallon Thursday, a jump of 6 cents over the day prior, according to AAA. The per-gallon cost of gas has increased 62 cents since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, sparking fears worldwide of increasing energy costs.
The report is a cautionary tale about future increases, showing a steady increase in inflation since late fall. Inflation rose 0.8 percent from January to February, up from 0.6 percent from December to January and 0.6 percent from November to December.
The cost of food increased on pace with inflation, costing Americans 7.9 percent more last month than in February 2021. Importantly, costs increased 1 percent from January to February 2022; 0.9 percent from December to January; and 0.5 percent from November to December.