Inflation Cools in Swing States Crucial for US Presidential Vote

(Bloomberg) -- Inflation rates fell last month in major cities across three swing states that will help decide the outcome of US elections, amid a nationwide moderation in prices that could aid President Joe Biden’s campaign.

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Prices rose 2.6% in Atlanta from a year earlier, the lowest annual rate in the Georgia capital in more than three years and down from 3.1% in April. Meantime, the inflation rate in Philadelphia fell by a half point to 3.6%, while the rate in Detroit saw a slight drop to 3.4%, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data released Thursday.

Among swing state metropolitan areas that reported inflation numbers for June, only Phoenix saw an acceleration, with prices rising 2.7% from a year earlier compared with 2.6% in April. Nationally, inflation cooled to a 3% annual rate from 3.3% in May.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and his party are seeking to make inflation a major issue in the swing-state races that will decide the election, as polls show that price increases since the pandemic have soured voters’ views on the economy. June’s improvement in inflation, driven by a moderation of housing costs, could encourage the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates.

Lower inflation in the swing states also could be a boost for the president, who is trying to fend off calls to drop out of the race after a disastrous debate performance last month. Biden trailed Trump in Georgia, Pennsylvania and Arizona in the latest Bloomberg News/Morning Consult poll, and led him in Michigan.

“Today’s report shows that we are making significant progress fighting inflation,” Biden said in statement.

Inflation fell in 11 of the 14 US metro areas that reported June data on Thursday, led by a 1 percentage point drop in Miami, which had the highest rate in the US last year. Miami’s 3.5% reported annual rate in June was the lowest since February 2021.

In Atlanta, a more moderate increase in shelter costs and a significant drop in the inflation rate of household energy helped drive the half-point improvement in prices last month. Philadelphia’s half-point drop in inflation stemmed from a decline in motor fuel costs and a more moderate rise in shelter prices.

Aside from Phoenix, inflation also accelerated in Baltimore and New York — with the latter posting a 4.2% annual rate that was the highest in more than a year, bucking the national trend of cooling inflation.

The federal government tracks prices in 23 metro areas, with New York, Los Angeles and Chicago reporting inflation every month and the other cities doing so every second month.

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