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Here’s a Big Reason Why The Latest Inflation Numbers Really Hurt

The cost of feeding and clothing a young family is soaring.

Gerber babies may no longer be smiling as the price of baby food shoots up. (Courtesy of Gerber via AP) Gerber

There’s a massive economic policy debate right now about whether inflation expectations really matter. But if you think they do — even the tiniest bit — then there’s one type of price increase that is far more emotionally powerful than others, and that is one that impacts people’s ability to feed and clothe their family.

The latest U.S. inflation figures have very bad readings on that front.

While overall CPI came in much hotter than expected for October at 6.2% year-on-year, the highest since 1990, there are some specific categories relevant to growing families that look even more dramatic.

“Keeping your kids well-fed and clothed is getting more expensive,” says Omair Sharif at Inflation Insights LLC. “Baby food prices are up 7.9% year-on-year, the fastest rate of growth since mid-2008, and seem poised to post their largest ever annual growth rate soon.”

Meanwhile, clothing for infants and toddlers increased by 7.6% year-on-year, the second-fastest growth rate in the last three decades.