Consumer prices leaped another 1 perent in November despite a lull in energy prices, bringing inflation so far this year to an annual rate of 13.1 percent, the worst performance since just after World War II.
The increase cut further into consumer's purchasing power. After accounting for the impact of inflation, the average hourly earnings of workers fell 0.2 percent over the month. Hourly earnings now stand 4.2 percent below a year ago.
Moreover, Robert R. Russell, director of the administration's Council on Wage and Price Stability, said even sharper price increases are expected for December as mortgage costs and farm prices rise.
Russell told the congressional Joint Economic Committee in testimony yesterday that while inflation should abate some during 1980, he sees little prospect of substantial relief in the next few months.
The continued rapid inflation marked a setback for the Carter administration. Only a few months ago, officials predicted that the price surge would slow toward the end of this year.
The increase marked the 11th month in a row that the consumer price index has jumped by 1 percent or more. Retail prices climbed 1 perent in October and 1.1 percent in both September and August.
As in the previous month's increase, more than half the November rise stemmed from a continuing surge in housing costs, reflecting both higher house prices and climbing mortgage interest rates.
Another one-fourth of the overall increase came from sharply rising transportation costs. Supermarket prices climbed 0.5 percent over the month following an 0.7 percent increase in October.
Howard Hjort, the Agriculture Department's chief economist, predicted yesterday that food prices would rise 8 percent in 1980, compared to 11 percent expected for the current year's increase.
The consumer price index for November stood at 227.5 percent of its 1967 average. That means it took $227.50 last month to buy the same goods and services that cost $100 just 12 years ago.
Energy prices virtually ground to a halt last month, edging up 0.1 percent following increases of 1.1 percent in October and 2.7 percent in September as the economy absorbed the tail end of last June's crude oil price hike.
Gasoline prices nationally rose 1.7 percent in November, compared to 1.8 percent in October. But the price of household fuels actually declined 1.3 percent -- its first such drop since 1978.
Food prices turned in a mixed performance. Dairy prices soared 1.1 percent over the month, but beef prices declined slightly and prices of fresh fruits and vegetables plunged 0.9 percent.
Transportation prices leaped 1.4 percent in October, reflecting a spate of hefty increases in airline, bus and train fares and taxi and mass transit charges that stemmed largely from higher energy prices.
Housing costs soared 1.3 percent, the 10th big monthly increase in a row. Although some of the rise reflected increasing home mortgage rates, much stemmed from climbing house prices.
Carter administration officials have complained in recent months that the rise in mortgage interest rates is exaggerating the nation's inflation figures because the Consumer Price Index gives so much weight to mortgage costs.