CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Consumer prices rose 8.5 percent in March, the highest since 1981, according to Labor Department data released Tuesday.
Texas A&M-CC economics professor Jim Lee said the sharp increase exceeded experts' expectations.
"This is not good, because if actual inflation is higher than you expect it," he said. "A lot of consumers tend to panic and they will expect even more inflation coming up."
Price increases for gas, housing and food were the largest contributors to inflation. Consumers, such Carlos Botello, are having to make difficult decisions.
"Having to decide whether to put gas or buy groceries is the hardest thing," Botello said.
Corpus Christi resident Joe Girdner said he's feeling the effects particularly at the pump.
"We try to combine travels when it comes to gas," Girdner said. "You go to the grocery stores, you're shopping bargains."
Prices already affected by supply-chain issues, growing consumer demand, and disruptions to global food and energy markets have many taking a harder look at their spending habits. Lee said the war in Ukraine is adding uncertainty for what can be expected in the coming months.
"There's expectation that it's going to go even higher this month of April, slightly higher so don't panic," Dr. Lee said. "It all depends how the war is going to develop over time."