Businesses in the United States are facing new cost challenges, as the U.S. Department of Labor reports that wholesale prices increased 1.1 percent in March, a sharp increase over the 0.3 percent increase the previous month and the second-largest increase in the past 33 years. Analysts blame the price surge on the costs of energy and food; with those elements removed, core inflation rose only 0.2 percent, down from a 0.5 percent increase the previous month. Energy prices were up 2.9 percent in March; food prices rose 1.2 percent. The steep increase raised concerns among economic experts that the United States could be facing another bout of "stagflation," which last occurred in the 1970s as economic growth stagnated but inflation kept rising.
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