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The Consumer Price Index shot up to 6.8 percent by the end of 2021, the highest it’s been in 40 years.
Costs continue to skyrocket into 2022, but U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said consumers can expect relief as the Biden administration tries to tackle the problem industry by industry.
“The reason supply is down is because of COVID,” Raimondo said. “You know, we shut down factories, shut down meat processing plants. The president took action in meat processing, so we’re going to start to see relief at the grocery store.”
Prices of meat and other goods could go down with the administration’s plans to support smaller independent vendors, and by bringing workers back to factories and the roads.
“A lot of it was lack of truckers, you know, they didn’t have folks to drive the logging trucks,” Raimondo explained. “So we did apprenticeship programs to train more folks to be truckers. In the gas industry was the lack of supply, so the president tapped into the petroleum reserves. We’ve increased the supply of oil and gas; you’ve seen gas prices stabilize. “
But all-around relief may take a little longer.
“I think it’ll take us the full year in order to get to pre-pandemic prices across the board. But already you’re seeing relief,” Raimondo said.
She said there is no silver bullet to bring all costs down, but that increasing vaccination rates and boosters would help dramatically help.
“Because the reason we’re still having trouble, you know, at the ports, at manufacturing facilities, is because of COVID outbreaks and business has to shut down, or because people are we still have a labor shortage,” she said. “People are still afraid to go back to work. If everybody was vaccinated and boosted it would significantly cut down on the disruption in manufacturing facilities. “
Some have criticized the Biden administration, saying it waited too long to address inflation.
“I would disagree,” Raimondo responded. “We have been on it since the day we’ve been here. I mean, President Biden and his team and I, we have been focused on this from day one. Both in terms of the COVID response, we got to get COVID behind us, that’s what gets us economy back going again.”
“We’ve been focused on bringing down prices in lumber. One of the first things I worked on when I became secretary were lumber prices at that time lumber prices were up by 40%. They’re now down to back where they were pre-pandemic,” she added. “So listen, I wish it were faster. You know, I know folks are frustrated. I was home for the holidays. My family’s frustrated, you know, and we get it, but we are working as hard, as fast as we can on a really complex issue.”
The Federal Reserve could also help to lower inflation by raising interest rates in 2022. That move can help lower the demand and costs for products, homes and cars.
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