WASHINGTON - Inflation at the wholesale level soared in March at nearly triple the rate that had been expected as the costs of energy and food both climbed rapidly.
The Labor Department reported Tuesday that wholesale prices rose by 1.1 percent last month, the largest increase since a 2.6 percent rise last November, which had been the biggest one-month jump in 33 years. Analysts had been expecting a much more moderate 0.4 percent rise in wholesale prices for the month.
Core inflation, which excludes energy and food, was better behaved last month, rising by just 0.2 percent, down from a worrisome 0.5 percent rise in February.
For the past 12 months, wholesale prices are up by 6.9 percent and core inflation is up by 2.7 percent, the biggest year-over-year increase in nearly two years.
The inflation pressures are occurring at a time when the overall economy is slowing and many analysts believe may have toppled into a recession. That raises concerns that the country could be facing another bout of stagflation, the malady that last occurred in the 1970s when economic growth stagnated but inflation kept rising.