Everything really is getting more expensive

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Americans want to buy more stuff, and businesses are rushing to meet demand.

Unemployment is below 4% for the first time in 17 years, wages are slowly inching up, and consumers are spending money on clothes, furniture, and cars. At the same time, elevated labor, transportation and commodity costs are pinching their profit margins.

Both consumers and producers are feeling the squeeze from a healthy US economy. After years of low inflation, prices rose 1.9% in March from a year ago, according to the Federal Reserve’s favored inflation measuring stick.

Consumer prices were up 2.1% in April from a year ago, while suppliers paid 2.6% more.

Auto loans are getting more expensive because the Federal Reserve is gradually raising interest rates. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has moved to a seven-year high above 4.6%, according to Freddie Mac.

Dozens of companies in recent weeks have said they already hiked prices or plan to in the coming months to combat inflation.

Deere (DE) said on Friday that it would raise prices for its equipment because of higher material and freight costs.

McDonald’s (MCD) and Chipotle (CMG) have raised burger and burrito prices. Amazon (AMZN) isincreasing Prime memberships by 20%. Netflix made monthly subscription prices 10% higherlate last year.

Tyson Foods (TSN) is planning to make Ball Park hot dogs more expensive, while Stanley Black & Decker (SWH) will hike the prices of their industrial tools.

“We’re in business to make money, and in order to do that, we have to achieve price increases to offset some of that inflation,” Stanley Black & Decker’s CEO said last month.

Oil prices crossed $70 a barrel for the first time in more than three years. Americans are experiencing it at the pump: A gallon of gas is $2.91 — 24% higher than a year ago.

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