Largest Increase in Inflation Since December 1981

Your long-term retirement strategies must account for inflation – or else

Planning Retirement

On Friday, June 10th, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers increased 1.0% in May after rising 0.3% in April. Worse, over the past 12 months, the Consumer Price Index increased 8.6%.

According to BLS, “the increase was broad-based, with the indexes for shelter, gasoline, and food being the largest contributors. After declining in April, the energy index rose 3.9% over the month, with the gasoline index rising 4.1% and the other major component indexes also increasing. The food index rose 1.2% in May as the food at home index increased 1.4%.”


  • The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.6% in May, the same increase as in April.
  • While almost all major components increased over the month, the largest contributors were the indexes for shelter, airline fares, used cars and trucks, and new vehicles.
  • The indexes for medical care, household furnishings and operations, recreation, and apparel also increased in May.

Largest Increase Since 1981

On a 12-month basis:

  • CPI increased 8.6% for the 12 months ending May
  • This is the most significant 12-month increase since the period ending December 1981
  • The all items less food and energy index rose 6.0% over the last 12 months
  • The energy index rose 34.6% over the previous year, the largest 12-month increase since the period ending September 2005
  • The food index increased 10.1% for the 12-months ending May, the first increase of 10% or more since the period ending March 1981

Historical Inflation

Inflation in the United States has averaged around 3.3% from 1914 until 2022, but it reached an all-time high of 23.70% in June 1920 and a record low of -15.80% in June 1921.

Most will remember the high inflation rates of the 70s and early 80s when inflation hovered around 6% and occasionally reached double-digits. But so far, in 2021 and 2022, inflation seems to have gone up every month – which you no doubt already know – because you’re feeling it.


Inflation: The Retirement Killer

Inflation decreases the purchasing power of your money in the future. Unfortunately, many don’t factor inflation into their retirement plans.

Consider this: at 3% inflation, $100 today will be worth $67.30 in 20 years – a loss of 1/3 its value.

That same $100 will only buy you $67.30 worth of goods and services in 20 years. And in 35 years? Well, your $100 will be reduced to just $34.44.

What Investors Need to Remember

Therefore, your long-term retirement strategies must account for inflation and prepare for a decrease in the purchasing power of your dollar over time. It might be best to assume that inflation will be more than 3% – its historical average.

It’s true that inflation today hovers over 8% – quadruple the Federal Reserve’s target inflation rate – but a better assumption might be based on the last 100-years of data.

If you’re wrong and you find that the inflation rate for the next 25 years turns out to be 2%, then the purchasing power of your retirement savings will be more, not less.

As your advisor, I can create models with various inflation scenarios so you can better understand – and account for – inflation’s true impact on your retirement.

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