2021 Was Quite the Year for Inflation

Off the Charts: The Visual Says it All

Woman with face mask loading car after shopping.

Guido Mieth / Getty Images

It’s official: With data for all of 2021 now in the books, U.S. inflation last year was the highest for any year since 1981. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes inflation statistics every month, but a longer view helps put the recent price increases in perspective. After smoothing out the monthly ups and downs, the price spikes we’ve seen this year are a clear anomaly compared to the modest inflation we’ve gotten used to in the last few decades. As the chart below shows, the last time we had at least 7% inflation was 40 years ago. 

The pandemic’s disruptions to supply chains and the workforce have made it difficult for producers to keep up with massive demand for goods and services, resulting in higher increases for almost everything people buy. 

Have a question, comment, or story to share? You can reach Diccon at dhyatt@thebalance.com.

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  1. FRED Economic Data. “Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers: All Items in U.S. City Average.”

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