FAQ: Why inflation is rising and whether you should worry

Inflation hit 5 percent in the past year, the fastest pace in 13 years. Few are panicking yet, but there’s a big debate about how long prices will remain high.

A gas pump in Atlanta on May 13, a few days after a criminal hack shut down the Colonial pipeline. (Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg News).
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Inflation is a fancy way of saying rising prices. Nearly every day, prices of food, clothes, airline tickets and more are moving around, as some brands hike prices and others offer discounts. For the past decade, inflation has averaged under 2 percent a year for the typical American. But suddenly, inflation is rising much faster. The latest government data showed prices rose 5 percent from a year earlier, triggering fears that the economy is overheating.

Prices jumped 5 percent in May, continuing inflationary climb. Policymakers say it’s temporary.

But what exactly is going on and why are some economists, policymakers and business leaders starting to worry?