What’s Pushing Inflation Down? More Goods, Workers and Housing

Published by Breitbart News | November 15, 2023

Long past its painful peak, inflation in the United States may be heading steadily back toward its pre-pandemic levels, without the need for further interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve

Such a scenario became more likely, if hardly guaranteed, after Tuesday’s surprisingly tame report on consumer prices for October. The Labor Department’s data showed a broad-based easing of inflation across most goods and services. The price of gas? Down. Appliances? Down. Autos? Down. Same for airfares, hotel rooms and doctors’ fees.

Overall inflation didn’t rise from September to October, the first time that consumer prices collectively haven’t budged from one month to another in more than a year. Compared with a year earlier, prices rose 3.2% in October, the smallest such rise since June, though still above the Fed’s 2% inflation target.

Excluding volatile food and energy prices, so-called core inflation was just 0.2% last month, slightly below the pace of the previous two months. Economists closely track core prices, which are thought to provide a good sign of inflation’s likely future path. Measured year over year, core prices rose 4% in October, down from 4.1% in September, the smallest rise in two years.

“The inflation fever has broken,” said Bill Adams, chief economist at Comerica Bank. “Rising petroleum production is holding down gas prices, house prices are rising more slowly after mortgage rates surged in 2023 and rents are also rising more gradually” as more apartment buildings are completed.

October’s milder-than-expected price figures make it much less likely that the Fed will impose another rate hike. Many economists now say that the Fed’s most likely next move will be to cut rates, likely sometime next year, though that would depend on whether inflation continues to cool.

A major factor has been a big improvement in the supply of many things — workers, housing, and components for manufactured goods.

Millions of Americans have come off the sidelines in the past year and flooded back into the workforce, seeking and (mostly) finding jobs. Immigration has increased, too, and with it more people looking for work. With more hires available, businesses haven’t had to raise wages as much to fill jobs, thereby easing the pressure on those businesses to raise their prices.

At the same time, the largest number of new apartment buildings nationwide in decades are being completed, a trend that is helping slow rent increases. Rental costs, after a spike in September, rose at a much more gradual pace last month.

Rents and other housing costs are likely to keep coming down, economists say, as the cost of new leases continues to fall, according to real-time data providers such as Zillow. Those lower prices show up in the government’s data with a lag.

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