Inflation: Price jump worst since '91
Record gas and higher food prices drove inflation to the biggest annual jump since 1991 and fanned fears about growing pressures on consumers.
The Labor Department reading on Wednesday is another sign, along with mounting job losses and declining home prices, of the economic pain suffered by Americans as prices outstrip increases in paychecks.
The latest reading came as Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, in testimony on Capitol Hill, was warning that inflation could pose a major drag on the economy for the rest of this year.
Retail prices were up 5% annually in June, the biggest 12-month change since May 1991 - an annual figure that was skewed by the surge in gasoline prices related to the first Gulf War.
A separate Labor Department report showed the average hourly wage up only 3.4% over the same 12-month period, meaning the typical American is having trouble keeping up with the price increases.
"The government report confirms what every consumer in America has known for months now: inflation is soaring and it's having an adverse impact on the economy," said Rich Yamarone, director of economic research at Argus Research.
On a monthly basis, the Consumer Price Index was up 1.1% in June, after a 0.6% rise in May. Economists surveyed by Briefing.com had been looking for only a 0.7% rise.
Energy prices were up 6.6% in the month, led by a 10.1% jump in gas prices. That left gasoline prices up nearly a third from a year earlier.