Consumer prices rose 0.3 percent in August and 5.3 percent over the past 12 months, according to data released Tuesday by the Labor Department 

Monthly growth in the consumer price index (CPI), a closely watched gauge of inflation, fell for the second consecutive month, dropping from a July increase of 0.5 percent. Economists expected the CPI to grow by 0.4 percent last month.

Annual growth in the CPI — one of several ways to measure yearly inflation — also fell from a 5.4 percent rate in July, the highest rate since August 2008. Excluding food and energy prices, which are more volatile, the CPI rose 4 percent over the past 12 months and just 0.1 percent in August.

While inflation remains close to decade-plus highs, the continued slowdown in price growth may help President BidenJoe BidenBiden stumps for Newsom on eve of recall: ‘The eyes of the nation are on California’ Biden looks to climate to sell economic agenda Family of American held hostage by Taliban urges administration to fire Afghanistan peace negotiator MORE and Democrats soothe concerns about the rising cost of living as they attempt to pass a sprawling economic agenda. Republicans have sought to blame Biden and congressional Democrats for the recent run-up in price growth with slightly more than a year until the midterm elections.

The decline may also relieve some pressure on the Federal Reserve to begin pulling back on bond purchases meant to keep borrowing costs low, especially as the delta variant continues to roil the U.S. economy.

“The August CPI report showed further moderation in the monthly gain in consumer inflation, especially at the core level,” wrote Kathy Bostjancic of Oxford Economics.

“Headline CPI advanced by a solid 0.3%, though this is much softer than the outsized increases recorded in the prior five months,” she added. 

Economists expected inflation to cool slightly after a summer rush of travel and leisure spending drove price growth to remarkably high levels following steep declines in 2020.

Prices for airline fares, used cars and trucks, and motor vehicle insurance all fell in August after skyrocketing through most of the spring and summer. The CPI for used autos, which drove much of the summer’s increase in inflation, fell 1.5 percent in August but is still 31.9 percent higher than the same point in 2020.

Monthly inflation for groceries, restaurant and takeout meals, new vehicles, and shelter also fell in August. The rate of price growth for gasoline rose 0.4 percent in August, but the cost of fuel oil fell 2.1 percent last month as well.

The slowdown in inflation comes at a critical time for Biden and congressional Democrats as they race to write and pass a multitrillion-dollar infrastructure and social services bill, strike a deal with Republicans to fund the federal government and raise the country’s borrowing limit.

Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinBiden looks to climate to sell economic agenda Tester says ‘100 percent’ of reconciliation package must be paid for Overnight Energy & Environment —

The claim: Gas prices are the highest in 10 years, job growth is the worst in 20 years, inflation is the highest in 30 years and illegal immigration is at its highest level in 40 years

The U.S. continues to crawl out from under the COVID-19 pandemic, but a widely shared Facebook post misses the mark on several indicators about the state of the country.

“Gas prices highest in a decade. Worst jobs report in 2 decades. Highest inflation in 3 decades. Highest increase in illegal immigration in 4 decades,” according to the May 17 post that has been shared more than 1,400 times. “Y’all killed it with your emotional voting skills!”

A picture of a tuxedo-clad Bugs Bunny stares, unamused, at the reader.

Gas prices and inflation indeed are rising, and the April jobs report missed economists’ expectations. More migrants have tried to enter the United States in the last several months as well.

But the post is wrong at almost every turn. Gas prices are not their highest of the decade. Job gains in April were far from the worst of the last 20 years, too; the U.S. lost more than 20 million jobs in April 2020 alone. Inflation was higher at the start of the Great Recession.

Illegal immigration is more complicated to track, but apprehensions along the southwest border haven’t yet reached a 40-year record.

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The Facebook user who shared the post did not respond to a request for comment.

Gas prices

The national average price for a gallon of regular gas was about $3.03 on May 26, according to GasBuddy and the AAA auto club.

Gas prices haven’t been that high since 2014, but they aren’t the highest in a decade – making this part of the claim FALSE.

The last time the national average gas price was that high was Oct. 28, 2014, according to daily price data provided by AAA to USA TODAY. Prices were above $3 a gallon every day for nearly 2.5 years beginning on May 26, 2012.

Since the end of October 2014, the price of a gallon of gas hadn’t hit $3 until May 12, but it already was on the rise after sinking during the COVID-19 pandemic as fewer people commuted to work and school and scrapped travel plans.

AAA and Gasbuddy both expected $3 gas in 2021, but AAA spokeswoman Jeannette Casselano said it arrived earlier than anticipated because of the Colonial Pipeline’s temporary shutdown following a ransomware attack.

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Part of the reason for the increase is higher demand. AAA expects the number of travelers driving for the Memorial Day weekend to approach pre-pandemic levels, Casselano said. The price of oil also factors into the cost of gas.

Jobs report

The jobs report was not the worst of the last two decades– so this part of the claim is