Prices for consumers haven't climbed quite like this since the early 1980s. But it turns out business owners are feeling costs pressures like never before, providing added context for why everything is coming at an ever higher expense.

The Producer Price Index, which tracks what business owners pay for the materials involved in their goods and services, rose more than 11% (unadjusted) in March compared to a year ago, according to the Department of Labor. Not only was the increase more substantial than what consumers felt — 8.5%, according to the Labor Department's Consumer Price Index report — it's the most substantial year-over-year growth on record.

Energy prices, which are a major contributor to inflation, also rose from March 2021 and were responsible for more than half of the upward movement to the PPI, the Labor Department revealed.

As with previous economic challenges, the problems plaguing the supply chain and runaway inflation are feeding upon one another, although it's unclear which issue triggered the other. But everyone — business owners as well as customers — is being impacted. These same people largely expect the price hikes to continue. Indeed, nearly 80% of Americans said they anticipate inflation to be a major problem even six months from now, according to a Gallup survey. Just 9% think prices will be lower than they are today. Economists believe the rising price trend could last well into 2020.

While economists did forecast the PPI to rise, the degree to which it did came as a surprise. Economists polled by Reuters forecast a hike of 10.6% on a year-over-year basis. The PPI for final demand measure also came in higher than anticipated, increasing 1.4% versus the 1.1% advanced that economists hypothesized.

Rising foods costs contributed to the record growth in the Producer Price Index.Rising food costs contributed to the record growth in the Producer Price Index.

Proposed solutions to high energy prices may not be fruitful
Meanwhile lawmakers are taking steps to help Americans lower their expenses. In addition to tapping into the Strategic Oil Reserve, President Joe Biden announced that oil producers could start using more corn-based ethanol in their gas production. Currently, environmental strictures are in place that limit the sale and development of E15. But starting in June, some of those restrictions will be lifted.

However, critics don't believe this move will make much of a difference in the price of gas. As Reuters points out, E15 doesn't have the same kind of energy density compared to traditional unleaded fuel. This means on a gallon-per-gallon basis, consumers will have to buy more than they would with regular gas.

Furthermore, similar to electric charging stations, there aren't many gas stations that offer E15 as an alternative. Of the country's 150,000 gas stations, only 2,300 sell E15, according to The Wall Street Journal.

With the war still raging in the Ukraine, COVID infections beginning to rise again and a sweeping lockdown being imposed in Shanghai by China, economists believe the worst may be yet to come, both for the supply chain and for Americans' bottom line.

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