Americas

Joe Biden downplays worst inflation in 40 years as 'progress' amid empty shelves

President Joe Biden cast the annual inflation of 7% – the highest level the US has seen in 40 years – as a ‘global challenge’ that his administration is ‘making progress’ on as supply chain issues leave many shelves empty.

The consumer price index increased 0.5% in December after rising 0.8% the prior month, according to a Department of Labor report released on Wednesday. That increase raised the annual inflation to 7% last month, which is the highest since June 1982.

However, Biden on Wednesday played down the dismal economic reading.

‘Today’s report– which shows a meaningful reduction in headline inflation over last month, with gas prices and food prices falling– demonstrates that we are making progress in slowing the rate of price increases,’ Biden stated.

‘At the same time, this report underscores that we still have more work to do, with price increases still too high and squeezing family budgets.’

Gas price across the country dropped 2.2% last month from November, but are still up 50% from a year ago. But food prices rose 0.5% from November to December and were 6.3% higher than a year ago.

Biden added that ‘inflation is a global challenge, appearing in virtually every developed nation as it emerges from the pandemic economic slump’ but claimed that his policies have put the country in the right direction.

‘America is fortunate that we have one of the fastest growing economies– thanks in part to the American Rescue Plan– which enables us to address price increases and maintain strong, sustainable economic growth,’ Biden stated. ‘That is my goal and I am focused on reaching it every day.’

Nationwide, gas prices did drop 2.2 percent in December from the prior month, but remained 50 percent higher than a year ago. Food prices were up 0.5 percent on the month and 6.3 percent higher than a year ago, making it unclear what falling food prices Biden was referring to. 

Biden downplayed the high inflation as the coronavirus Omicron variant continues to impact the supply chain.

Omicron has put ‘a bit of a dent’ on efforts to address supply chain problems, according to Vivek Sankaran, CEO of Albertsons, which owns Safeway, Vons and Jewel-Osco.

‘There are more supply challenges, and we would expect more supply challenges over the next four to six weeks,’ Sankaran said on an earnings call on Tuesday, according to the Daily Mail.

A man at a grocery store in Washington, DC, told Fox News of the bare shelves situation: ‘It’s like a Soviet store during 1981. It’s horrible.’

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