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ECON: Economics: Consumer Prices & Inflation

This guide will help you find information about Economics, including economic theories, statistical data, economic indicators, and biographical information about famous economists.

Gasoline Prices & the Energy Industry

U.S. Energy Information Administration -- This federal government agency collects, analyzes, and disseminates independent and impartial energy information to promote sound policymaking, efficient markets, and public understanding of energy, and its interaction with the economy and the environment. Some helpful reports include:

 

American Petroleum Institute (API) -- Keep in mind that API is a trade organization representing the interests of the oil industry, so their perspective will lean toward easing environmental and trade regulations, and lowering taxes on their products. Having said that, they also collect a lot of useful data about the energy sector. Take a look at these pages on their website:

 

U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) -- The national and state-level Public Interest Research Groups are advocacy organizations that investigate issues relating to product safety, environmental justice, consumer protection, and wasteful government spending, just to name a few. Click here to read their report on federal fossil fuel subsidies.  

Other Products & Industries

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics collects data for the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is a measure of the average change over time in prices paid by consumers for commonly used goods and services. Each of these Fact Sheets provides data about a specific category of consumer spending.

The Economic Research Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture keeps track of the many factors affecting food prices. For an overview of how food prices have changed over the last three years, read the Food Price Outlook, which includes downloadable spreadsheets.

Trade associations in particular industries can be a good source of information on consumer prices for occasions that involve paying for more than one thing. Here are some examples:

  • American Farm Bureau Federation report on the average cost of Thanksgiving dinner -- In 2021, prices were about 14 percent higher than the previous year.
  • "The Knot" Real Weddings Study -- Annual report covering trends in the wedding planning business, including how much couples are paying for typical components of their celebration, such as venue rental, food, beverage service, flowers, photographers, rings, and honeymoon travel.
  • National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) General Price List -- In November 2021, a survey of NFDA members found that median prices for various aspects of the funeral process -- such as embalming, cremation, transportation of the deceased, and caskets -- were rising more slowly than the rate of inflation.

Understanding Inflation

Inflation 101: What Is Inflation? -- This basic explanation, starting with three short videos, is a good introduction if you're not familiar with the causes and effects of inflation. The information comes from the Center for Inflation Research at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.

Inflation: Prices on the Rise -- This article is from the magazine F&D: Finance & Development, which is published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). To read more articles from F&D for free, use the ProQuest database.

Debunking 5 Top Inflation Myths -- Blog post from the Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank dedicated to including the needs of low- and middle-income workers in economic policy discussions.

The Biden-Harris Inflation Plan -- This press release outlines the Biden Administration's plan to protect Americans from the impact of inflation by lowering the cost of food, prescription drugs, energy, child care, and housing, while also lowering the federal deficit.

Consumer Price Index Inflation Calculator -- This tool will calculate the value of current dollars in an earlier year, to compare the difference in buying power between the two time periods.