An old one hundred trillion Zimbabwean dollar note on top of a pile of other old Zimbabwean notes of various denominations in Harare, Thursday. Starting next week, Zimbabweans will be able to exchange their trillions for up to $5 U.S. Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP hide caption

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Construction workers in Washington, D.C., in December. The latest jobs report will further drive the "misery index" to its lowest level in more than half a century. But economists say meager wages and big debts are still problems. Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Target shoppers Kelly Foley (from left), Debbie Winslow and Ann Rich use a smartphone to look at a competitor's prices while shopping shortly after midnight on Black Friday, in South Portland, Maine. Robert F. Bukaty/AP hide caption

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Meat is displayed in a case at a grocery store in Miami. The index of retail prices for meats, poultry, fish and eggs was up 7.7 percent from a year ago — more than triple the overall inflation rate. Joe Raedle/Getty Images hide caption

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The cost of a gallon of gas kept rising last year, but not at the torrid pace of 2010 and 2011. That helped keep inflation in check. Joe Raedle/Getty Images hide caption

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Sign of the times: Markdowns at a discount clothing store in New York City last month. Such stiff competition for consumers' dollars is helping to keep inflation in check. Spencer Platt/Getty Images hide caption

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