Annual Inflation Eases to 2%; Consumer Prices Inch Higher in October

U.S. inflation at the consumer level barely climbed in October after jumping in September by the most in eight-months, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Wednesday, November 15, 2017.

Rising costs in healthcare and shelter were mostly offset by falling gasoline prices, the data showed. Prices at the pump had been boosted in earlier months by storm-related disruptions from hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Consumer prices edged up 0.1% in October after advancing 0.5% in September, the Labor Department said in its monthly report on the Consumer Price Index. The CPI measures what Americans pay for everything from eggs to energy.

Gasoline prices fell 2.4% last month after surging 13.1% in September and 6.3% in August. Before Hurricane Harvey hit in August, prices at the pump had fallen or were muted for three straight months. Prices in October were still, however, 10.8% higher than the same month a year ago.

The broader index for energy, which combines items like gasoline, electricity and fuel oil, declined 1% in October after soaring 6.1% in September and rising 2.8% in August. They still moved up 6.4% year-over-year.

Food prices were unchanged last month after climbing 0.1% in each of the two previous months. They logged a year-on-year increase of 1.3%.

Stripping the more volatile food and energy components, so-called core consumer prices increased 0.2% in October after rising 0.1% in September.

Within the grouping, shelter or housing costs rose 0.3% for a second month in a row. They surged 0.5% in August for the largest monthly gain since 2005. They are 3.2% higher over the past 12 months. Components of shelter include pricing items like rent for apartments, rental equivalence, lodging away from home such as hotels, and housing at schools. The shelter component accounts for about one-third of the CPI.

Medical care services rose 0.3% in October, their fifth straight monthly increase.

U.S. inflation grew 2.0% from the same month a year earlier after moving up 2.2% previously. As recently as February, the annual rate of inflation jumped 2.7% for the biggest gain since March 2012.

Core inflation rose 1.8% on an annual basis after registering 1.7% gains in each of the five previous months. Annual inflation has remained in the range of 1.6% to 2.3% since June 2011. The core annual measure is one of the benchmark inflation rates monitored by the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) as it helps the central bank decide where to set its key interest rate.

The following table of key inflation figures is for the last ten months through October, as published by the U.S. Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov/cpi). To index the data each month, the BLS monitors the prices of about 80,000 consumer goods and services from around the nation. All monthly and annual pricing changes are in percentages.

April to October 2017 Consumer Prices – Gains & Losses in Percent

  Apr 2017 May 2017 Jun 2017 Jul 2017 Aug 2017 Sept 2017 Oct 2017 12 Month
All items 0.2 -0.1 .0 0.1 0.4 0.5 0.1 2.0
  Food 0.2 0.2 .0 0.2 0.1 0.1 .0 1.3
    Food at home 0.2 0.1 -0.1 0.2 -0.2 .0 .0 0.6
    Food away from home 0.2 0.2 .0 0.2 0.3 0.3 0.1 2.3
  Energy 1.1 -2.7 -1.6 -0.1 2.8 6.1 -1.0 6.4
    Energy commodities 1.3 -6.2 -2.7 .0 6.1 12.6 -2.3 10.8
      Gasoline (all types) 1.2 -6.4 -2.8 .0 6.3 13.1 -2.4 10.8
      Fuel oil -0.3 -2.8 -3.7 -2.0 2.9 8.2 2.3 11.7
    Energy services 0.9 0.7 -0.5 -0.2 -0.1 -0.2 0.4 2.2
      Electricity 0.6 0.3 -0.6 0.4 .0 .0 0.5 2.0
      Utility (piped) gas service 2.2 1.9 -0.2 -2.3 -0.5 -0.8 0.3 3.2
  All items less food, energy 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.2 0.1 0.2 1.8
    Commodities less food, energy -0.2 -0.3 -0.1 -0.1 -0.1 -0.2 0.1 -1.0
      New vehicles -0.2 -0.2 -0.3 -0.5 .0 -0.4 -0.2 -1.4
      Used cars and trucks -0.5 -0.2 -0.7 -0.5 -0.2 -0.2 0.7 -2.9
      Apparel -0.3 -0.8 -0.1 0.3 0.1 -0.1 -0.1 -0.6
      Medical care -0.8 0.4 0.7 1.0 -0.1 -0.8 .0 0.9
    Services less energy 0.1 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.4 0.2 0.3 2.7
      Shelter 0.3 0.2 0.2 0.1 0.5 0.3 0.3 3.2
      Transportation -0.2 0.3 0.2 0.2 0.4 0.3 0.2 4.2
      Medical care .0 -0.1 0.3 0.3 0.2 0.1 0.3 1.9

 

The BLS releases inflation data around the middle of every month based on consumer prices surveyed in the previous month. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) for November and the latest annual period becomes public on December 13, 2017.

CPI data is used in calculating inflation rates and in this site’s inflation calculator. The US Inflation Calculator shows cumulative inflation and the change in buying power of the U.S. dollar over time.

Leave a Reply