Australia’s inflation rate eases to 3.6%

57

24th April 2024 – (Sydney) The latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) indicates a slight easing in Australia’s inflation, with the annual consumer price index (CPI) increasing by 3.6% up to March 2024. This represents a moderation from the 4.1% rise recorded in December 2023.

During the first quarter of 2024, the CPI rose by 1.0%, driven primarily by escalating costs in education, health, housing, and food and non-alcoholic beverages. Despite the overall inflation slowdown, these sectors saw significant price increases, contributing to the persistent upward pressure on the cost of living.

Housing costs were notably higher, rising by 0.7% in the three months leading up to March and showing a 4.9% increase compared to the same period last year. Michelle Marquardt, the ABS head of prices statistics, attributed the quarterly surge in housing costs mainly to rising rental prices, which climbed by 2.1% across major cities due to low vacancy rates. “Rents continue to increase at their fastest pace in 15 years,” Marquardt explained.

The education sector also reported a sharp increase, with costs jumping by 5.9% in the quarter. Health expenses weren’t far behind, recording a 2.8% rise. These hikes reflect ongoing pressures in sectors critical to the average consumer.

Conversely, there was a 0.7% decrease in the prices of meat and seafood during the same period, offering some relief. However, prices for non-alcoholic beverages along with fruit and vegetables saw upward movements, adding to the mixed picture of the nation’s inflation landscape.

This nuanced inflation report comes at a critical time when policymakers are grappling with balancing economic growth with inflation control. The easing of the annual inflation rate might provide some leeway for monetary policy adjustments, but the persistent rises in essential sectors could pose challenges for broad-based economic strategies.