Wholesale prices in October plunged by 2.8 percent, the sharpest monthly decline in 22 years, the Labor Department reported this week.

The declines were driven by cheaper energy and food prices last month. Gas prices alone fell by 25 percent, dragging overall energy prices down by 12.8 percent following a three percent decline in September, the report said. By contrast, food prices fell by a modest 0.2 percent, with declines offset by rising prices for chickens, natural cheese, melons and fresh vegetables, among other goods.

Stripped of energy and food costs, so-called core producer prices rose by 0.4 percent.

Prices were down for materials used in the earlier stages of production, as well as intermediate and crude goods, the report said.

The cheaper wholesale prices come amid increasingly bleak reports on consumer spending and economic confidence.

The producer price index is based on selling prices reported by businesses of all sizes.