Inflation zooms 8.7% in Twin Cities, slightly more than US

Inflation in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area surged by a record 8.7% in May over the year, slightly higher than the national average.

Consumer prices increased 1.9 percent locally since March, when the Twin Cities saw its previous record high, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

Nationally, prices rose 8.6% in May over the year, a new 40-year high. There were few signs of a slowdown, vexing economists who had expected year-over-year readings to start coming down now that they're being compared to last spring, when inflation began picking up.

Gas prices were up 49%, roiling both families who have upcoming summer travel plans and businesses that ship goods to retailers. Airfare was up 38% as airlines deal with soaring jet fuel costs.

The cost of groceries and electricity each increased by 12%. Rents were up 5.2%, smaller in percentage terms but a more significant part of many families' budgets.

The persistently high inflation means the Federal Reserve will keep hiking interest rates. The Fed has forecasted half-percentage point increases at its meeting next week and another meeting in July. Additional rate hikes may be required in September and beyond.

RELATED: US inflation hit 8.6% in May, a new 40-year high

Inflation poses the most serious electoral challenge to President Joe Biden ahead of the fall midterms, when Minnesota's four statewide offices and all 201 legislative seats are up for grabs.

In a Friday speech, Biden blamed Russia's invasion of Ukraine, shipping firms, and oil companies for price spikes. He announced no new initiatives beyond what his administration has already proposed, while he framed inflation as a global problem.

"Make no mistake about it. I understand inflation is a real challenge to American families," Biden said.

His Treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, said this week that high gas prices will not come down soon. The average price for a gallon of regular gas in the Twin Cities hit a record $4.75 on Friday, up 67 percent from a year ago.

In Minnesota, 70% of people polled disapprove of Biden's performance on inflation, according to a MinnPost-Change Research poll released Friday.

The poll shows DFL Gov. Tim Walz with 42% support compared with 40% for his Republican challenger, Dr. Scott Jensen. The results are within the poll's margin of error.