Americans may finally be catching a break from relentlessly surging prices — if just a slight one — even as inflation is expected to remain painfully high for months.
Thanks largely to falling gas prices, the government’s inflation report for July, to be released Wednesday morning, is expected to show that prices jumped 8.7% from a year earlier — still a sizzling pace but a slowdown from the 9.1% year-over-year figure in June, which was the highest in four decades.
The forecast by economists, if it proves correct, would raise hopes that inflation might have peaked and that the run of punishingly higher prices is beginning to ease slightly. There have been other hopeful signs, too, that the pace of inflation may be moderating.
At the same time, an array of other economic developments are threatening to keep intensifying inflation pressures. The pace of hiring is robust and average wages are up sharply. And even as gas prices fall, inflation in services such as health care, rents and restaurant meals is accelerating. Price changes in services tend to be sticky and don’t ease as quickly as they do for gas, food or other goods. Those trends suggest that overall inflation may not drop significantly anytime soon.