By PAUL WISEMAN
AP Economics Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) — Last year, it was a nasty surprise. And it wasn’t supposed to last. But now, inflation has become an ongoing financial strain for millions of Americans filling up at the gas station, lined up at the grocery checkout lane, shopping for clothes, bargaining for a car or paying monthly rent. For the 12 months ending in January, that red-hot inflation amounted to 7.5% — the fastest year-over-year pace since 1982. Even if you toss out volatile food and energy prices, so-called core inflation jumped 6% over the past year. That was also the sharpest such jump in four decades.