US Inflation at 2.3%, Consumer Prices Flat in April 2012

American consumers got a bit of a break in April as US inflation was flat for the month, the US government reported today in Washington.

Consumer prices were unchanged in April and for the first time since December, thanks to falling energy costs. The unchanged reading followed a 0.3% increase in the previous month when gasoline and other energy items were on the rise.

US Labor Department inflation data shows that gasoline prices dropped 2.6% last month compared to March and February increases of 1.7% and 6.0%, respectively.

Food prices continue to be burdensome to consumers’ wallets, however. In February the cost of food was flat, marking the first time prices had not moved higher since July 2010. But that was not the case in March as food prices went up 0.2 percent. The increase was again matched in April.

Excluding food and energy costs which are more volatile, the so-called core US inflation rate rose 0.2 percent in April, the same as in March.

"Increases in the indexes for shelter, used cars and trucks, medical care, airline fares, new vehicles, and apparel all contributed significantly to the April increase," the US Labor Department said in its monthly Consumer Price Index (CPI) report which is the government’s key measure of US inflation.

US inflation rose 2.3 percent over the past 12 months after rising 2.7 percent in March.

Consumer prices over the past 12 months did not top the core rate of inflation for the first time since October 2009, as core US inflation was also up 2.3 percent year-on-year. That core reading is the same as reported in the previous month. The level remains above the Federal Reserve’s 2.0 percent target area, although it is unlikely to change its current view that inflation remains under control for the long haul.

"Today’s report offered few surprises, and that will surely please the Fed," CNNMoney.com quoted Chris Jones, economist with TD Bank. "The last thing they want is to have to face this unsavory tradeoff between having to battle inflation and lower unemployment."

The following table provides US Labor Department inflation data ranging from September to April and on a 12-month basis.

April 2012 Consumer Prices – Gains (percent)

  Oct
2011
Nov
2011
Dec
2011
Jan
2012
Feb
2012
Mar
2012
Apr
2012
12
Month
All items -0.1 .0 .0 0.2 0.4 0.3 .0 2.3
  Food 0.1 0.1 0.2 0.2 .0 0.2 0.2 3.1
    Food at home 0.1 -0.1 0.3 .0 .0 0.1 0.2 3.3
    Food away from home 0.2 0.3 0.2 0.4 0.1 0.2 0.3 2.9
  Energy -2.0 -1.6 -1.3 0.2 3.2 0.9 -1.7 0.9
    Energy commodities -2.9 -2.1 -1.9 0.9 5.7 1.7 -2.6 3.1
      Gasoline (all types) -3.1 -2.4 -2.0 0.9 6.0 1.7 -2.6 3.2
      Fuel oil -0.5 2.7 -1.0 1.4 2.8 2.7 -1.1 0.9
    Energy services -0.4 -0.7 -0.3 -0.8 -0.8 -0.4 -0.2 -2.4
      Electricity 0.4 0.4 -0.2 .0 .0 -0.8 0.2 0.6
      Utility (piped) gas service -3.0 -4.4 -0.8 -2.9 -3.4 0.9 -1.8 -11.6
  All items less food, energy 0.1 0.2 0.1 0.2 0.1 0.2 0.2 2.3
    Comm. less food, energy -0.1 0.1 -0.2 0.2 0.1 0.2 0.2 2.0
      New vehicles -0.3 -0.3 -0.2 .0 0.6 0.2 0.4 2.2
      Used cars and trucks -0.6 -0.1 -0.9 -1.0 -0.2 1.3 1.5 3.5
      Apparel 0.4 0.6 -0.1 0.9 -0.9 0.5 0.4 5.1
      Medical care 0.3 0.2 0.2 0.6 0.8 0.4 .0 2.7
    Services less energy 0.2 0.2 0.3 0.2 0.1 0.2 0.3 2.4
      Shelter 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 2.2
      Transportation 0.1 0.1 0.1 .0 -0.2 0.3 0.5 1.7
      Medical care 0.5 0.5 0.4 0.2 .0 0.3 0.4 3.7

 

The US Labor Department will release May 2012 Consumer Price Index information on June 14, 2012 at 8:30 AM Eastern Time. Current and historic CPI data is used as the core data for this site’s Inflation Calculator.

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