The government says inflation at the consumer level rose 0.5% last month because Americans spent more on food and gasoline. The Labor Department's March Consumer Price Index is out; it finds the vast majority of price increases were in these two categories, although there were smaller increases in rent and medical care costs.
Outside of these categories, the AP says overall inflation was rather tame in March. Over the past 12 months, inflation is up 2.7%. But higher gas and food costs affect the rest of the economy: when shoppers pay more for the same quantities of food and gas, they spend less on other items.