US Inflation Rates, Historical Information and Calculator Updates

The cost of living increased in December but prices actually rose less than expected, the latest data from the government reveals.

American consumer prices inched 0.1% higher last month. That drove the inflation rate up 2.7% in 2009 from a year ago, according to the Consumer Price Index, or CPI data provided by the Labor Department on Friday. The CPI is the government’s key inflation barometer.

The modest increase in December, which was 0.1% lower than many forecasts, compares to a 0.4% pickup in November. The aforementioned 2.7% annual inflation rate compares to 0.1% inflation in 2008. Higher gasoline prices account for much of the difference.

"The larger increase was primarily due to the energy index, which rose 18.2 percent during 2009 after falling 21.3 percent in 2008. The energy upturn was caused by the gasoline index, which rose 53.5 percent in 2009 after declining 43.1 percent in 2008," the Labor Department’s report states.

Excluding volatile food and energy costs, the core CPI rose 1.8% in the past 12 months versus the 1.7% rise reported in the prior month. 2009’s increase matched 2008. The core CPI in December was also up 0.1%

The US Inflation Calculator is updated with the latest government information, as are the following inflation rate and data pages:

Additionally, the CPI Release Schedule was updated to reflect 2010 dates for upcoming government reports.

As a note regarding this site’s Inflation Calculator that is located on the home page, current calculations allow comparisons of the buying power of the US dollar between the years 1913 to 2009. When the next CPI data released is made available on Feb. 19, which reports on January consumer prices, the calculator will be updated to also compare prices to 2010.

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