The omicron and delta variants of the COVID virus may be slowing the nation’s economic recovery, but they are not slowing down the inflation rates at all. In fact, the Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported this week that the producer price index (PPI) – inflation before reaching the consumer – rose 0.8% in November on the heels of a 0.6% jump in October. Annualized, the PPI hit the highest rate on record, increasing by a whopping 9.6% year over year. Over the same timeframe, other data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on the consumer price index (CPI) indicates that food prices at full-service restaurants rose by 6% year over year in November, another uptick from the 5.9% it rose in October. In addition, prices within the broader “food away from home” category – which includes quick service restaurants as well – jumped to an annualized rate of 5.8% through November, and at the quickest pace since 1982, almost 40 years ago!