The Labor Department said Tuesday the consumer price index jumped 8.5% in March compared to last year.
"The problem is that we have high energy prices that are translating to higher transportation costs, which is costing consumers more when we go buy groceries, we get gas," financial manager Brian Gilder said. "Consumers are really at a loss right now."
Prices driven up by bottlenecks in supply chains, and disruptions to global food and energy markets. Grocery prices are up 10%. Gasoline prices are up 48% in the past 12 months.
Sticker shock: Inflation in United States jumped 8.5% in past year, highest since 1981
"Gas prices are definitely high, $6.65, man. I remember when it was $4.25 and $3.75," said Los Angeles resident Paul Richard, who was getting gas.
Locally, workers say their paychecks aren't keeping up with inflation.
"I have two children ... they eat cereal, they drink milk -- milk is $5 a gallon, bread is $4-plus," L.A. resident Derek Horton said as he wiped away tears at a downtown L.A. press conference.
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Horton, along with workers from several public sector unions in L.A. County, are demanding cost-of-living increases to fight inflation.
"The sharp and steady increase in the cost of living is squeezing working families," said David Green from Service Employees International Union.
Some union members say they are preparing to hold a strike vote next week to get cost living increases.
"Rent is rising, food prices are rising, gas prices are rising, inflation is through the roof and people are struggling, people are hurting," said Dr. Shea Nagle of Los Angeles.