The United States Department of Labor reported yesterday that consumer prices rose 0.8 percent in February and 7.9 percent over the last 12 months. The consumer price index (CPI), the key gauge of inflation, showed price growth speeding up on both a monthly and annual basis. The all-item index rising almost 8% annually is the highest rate since January of 1982, while the identical 7.9% rate for the food index is the highest rate since July of 1981. At the same time, DOL also reported yesterday that average hourly earnings rose 5.1 percent over the past 12 months, but down from the 5.7 percent it reached in January. Looking at the month to month fluctuations, real average hourly earnings for all employees actually decreased 0.8 percent from January to February, seasonally adjusted, coupling a decrease in weekly earnings of 0.5 percent with a 0.3 percent increase in the average workweek. February 2022 earnings over February 2021, seasonally adjusted, decreased 2.6 percent while the average workweek increased 0.3 percent for a total 2.3 percent decrease in real average weekly earnings February 2021 to February 2022.