Price increases for goods and services reached a 30-year high as government data showed a key inflation measure move higher.

The Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) found the Personal Consumption Expenditure Index (PCE) rose 0.4%, with a 0.6% increase in the price of goods and a 0.3% rise in the price of services.

The PCE index is considered to be one of the more reliable means for gauging the state of inflation in the U.S. by the Federal Reserve because it excludes more volatile food and energy prices. However, the BEA data may present a challenge to the Fed’s own statements that inflation would be transitory as the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic continues. 

As the economy picked up steam from increased vaccinations and new stimulus funds from Congress, the price of goods and services has risen. Pent-up demand during the pandemic has been unleashed, but it is outstripping many businesses’ existing supplies, which continue to be exasperated by supply chain disruptions overseas. 

“The current inflation spike is really a consequence of supply constraints meeting very strong demand, and that is all associated with the reopening of the economy, which is a process that will have a beginning, a middle and an end,” Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said this week.

The BEA data show that inflation rose in August to 4.3%, bringing it to its highest level since the early 1990s, as noted by MarketWatch. For much of the last several months, the Fed has held that inflation would start to return to a pre-pandemic level of less than 2%. 

But more recently, Fed officials caution that these inflationary trends may continue into next year so long as the global supply picture remains uncertain.

“It’s also frustrating to see the bottlenecks and supply chain problems not getting better — in fact at the margins apparently getting a little bit worse,” Powell said. “We see that continuing into next year probably, and holding up inflation longer than we had thought.” 

There was evidence from Friday's data that suggests these inflation concerns are not completely undermining the economic recovery.

Personal income was found to have risen by $35.5 billion, or 0.2%, and consumer spending increased to $130.5 billion, or 0.8%, likely having to do with more Americans returning to work.