U.S. Inflation Hit 8.6% in May

Energy, groceries, shelter costs drive fastest rise in consumer-price index since December 1981

U.S. consumer inflation reached its highest level in more than four decades in May as surging energy and food costs pushed prices higher, with little indication of when the upward trend could ease.

The Labor Department on Friday said that the consumer-price index increased 8.6% in May from the same month a year ago, marking its fastest pace since December 1981. That was also up from April’s CPI reading, which was slightly below the previous 40-year high reached in March. The CPI measures what consumers pay for goods and services.

Consumers’ grocery bills have risen by an annual rate of more than 10% since earlier this year, a pace last seen in the early 1980s. Food price increases are unusually broad, and every single grocery category measured in the report rose in May from a year ago—most of them by double digits.