President Biden asserted on Wednesday that inflation was surging when he took office in January 2021, despite federal data showing the opposite.

Biden’s comments came shortly after the latest Consumer Price Index reading was released, showing annual inflation accelerated faster than expected for a third straight month in March. In response to a question about inflation remaining high, he noted that the rate of price increases has come down over the past two years and suggested he inherited the economic issues.

“Look, we have dramatically reduced inflation from 9% down to close to 3%. We’re in a situation where we’re better situated than we were when we took office where we — inflation was skyrocketing,” Biden told reporters during a press conference Wednesday.

He added that his administration has a “sustainable plan” to address inflation while Republicans are mainly focused on cutting taxes for the wealthy and raising taxes “on other people.”

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However, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, inflation was recorded at just 1.4% in January 2021 when Biden took office. It remained below 3% until April 2021, when it surged 4.2% and continued increasing until it hit a 40-year high of 9.1%.

Since then, the Consumer Price Index has steadily declined, decreasing every month until December, when it jumped from 3.1% to 3.4%. In January, inflation fell again, but increased in February to 3.2% and again last month to 3.5%, according to the data released Wednesday.

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The persistent inflation levels bode poorly for U.S. economic prospects and may ultimately prevent the Federal Reserve from slashing interest rates in the coming months. The Federal Reserve generally seeks to maintain an inflation rate of around 2%.

Consumers shop at a home improvement store

“When the President took office, the pandemic was dramatically disrupting our economy — from our supply chains to spending patterns,” White House spokesperson Michael Kikukawa told FOX Business in a statement. “That caused inflation around the world to increase — and spike even further due to Russia’s war in Ukraine. In fact, many other countries saw even worse inflation.”

“That’s why President Biden took historic action to fight inflation — from his aggressive work on supply chains to releases from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve,” he continued.

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Overall, high inflation has created severe financial pressures for most U.S. households, which are forced to pay more for everyday necessities like food and rent. The burden is disproportionately borne by low-income Americans, whose already-stretched paychecks are heavily affected by price fluctuations.

Housing and gasoline costs were the biggest drivers of inflation last month, accounting for more than half of the total monthly increase.

Rent costs rose 0.5% for the month and are up 5.7% from the same time last year. Rising rents are concerning because higher housing costs most directly and acutely affect household budgets. Gasoline prices, meanwhile, jumped 1.7% over the course of March. They are up 1.3% when compared with the same time last year.

“This was a painful report with few bright spots for consumers,” said Robert Frick, a corporate economist with Navy Federal Credit Union.

FOX Business’ Megan Henney contributed to this report.

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