WASHINGTON (Dispatches) - Prices in the U.S. rose faster than expected last month, as rising energy and food costs pushed inflation to the highest rate since 1981.
The annual inflation rate rose to 8.6% in May, the Labor Department said, after easing in April.
The rising cost of living has been squeezing households and putting pressure on policymakers to bring the issue under control.
The U.S. central bank has been raising interest rates since March.
Analysts had hoped that the moves were starting to work to cool economic activity, easing the price pressures. But the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which has driven up the price of oil and commodities like wheat as it disrupts exports from the two countries, has made tackling the problem more difficult.
Price increases have spread throughout the economy, pushing everything from airline tickets and clothing to medical services higher.
U.S. Weekly Jobless Claims
Rise to 229,000
On Thursday, the Labor Department reported initial jobless claims spiked to their highest level since mid-January last week despite signs of an otherwise strong employment picture.
First-time filings for the week ended June 4 totaled 229,000, an increase of 27,000 from the upwardly revised level in the prior period and well ahead of the 210,000 Dow Jones estimate. The period covered includes the Memorial Day holiday; seasonal adjustments normally would lead to a lower number.
The last time initial claims were that high was Jan. 15.
However, continuing claims, which run a week behind the headline number, were unchanged at just over 1.3 million, below the FactSet estimate of 1.35 million.
The four-week moving average for continuing claims, which accounts for volatility in the numbers, declined slightly to 1.32 million, the lowest level since Jan. 10, 1970.
The rise in claims comes less than a week after the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that nonfarm payrolls increased by 390,000 in May, considerably better than expected.
Companies have continued to hire despite rising worries that the U.S. economy could be headed for a shallow recession as inflation flares and global supply chains remain clogged.
The Federal Reserve is in the early stages of a rate-hiking cycle aimed at bringing down inflation running around 40-year highs. Fed officials are hoping to slow the labor market without causing an uptick in the unemployment rate, which is at 3.6% and near its lowest level since 1969.