US Inflation Decelerates as Consumer Prices Flatten in June

The cost of living in the United States was little changed in June, and the annual rate of inflation slowed, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Friday, July 14.

Cheaper gas, vehicles, and clothing offset cost increases in other areas like health care, transportation and shelter; while food prices leveled off after five straight increases.

Consumer prices were unchanged in June after slipping 0.1% in May, the Labor Department said in its monthly report on the Consumer Price Index. The CPI measures what Americans pay for everything from meat to medical care.

Gasoline prices dropped 2.8% for the month, after falling 6.4% previously. Their decline marked a fourth in the last five months following six consecutive gains. Prices at the pump dipped 0.4% from a year earlier.

The broader index for energy, which combines items like gasoline, electricity and fuel oil, decreased 1.6% in June after falling 2.7% in May. Energy prices grew 2.3% from a year ago.

After coming in flat for sixth straight months and then growing for five in a row, food prices again flattened in June. They remained 0.9% higher than a year earlier.

Stripping the more volatile food and energy components, so-called core consumer prices crept up 0.1% in June, for a third straight matching increasing.

Within the grouping, shelter costs rose 0.2% for a second time. They advanced 3.3% over the past 12 months. Components of shelter include pricing items like rent, rental equivalence, lodging away from home, and housing at school.

Medical care commodities and services posted gains of 0.7% and 0.3%. Less expensive items included new and used vehicles, down by 0.3% and 4.3%, and clothing by 0.1%.

In a broader summary, the report noted that the "shelter index continued to rise, and the indexes for medical care, motor vehicle insurance, education, and personal care also increased. The indexes for airline fares, used cars and trucks, wireless telephone services, and new vehicles were among the indexes that declined in June."

U.S. inflation advanced 1.6% from the same month a year ago, the lowest level since the 12 months ended October, after rising 1.9% previously. The annual inflation rate has trended steadily lower after jumping 2.7% in February, its largest increase since March 2012.

Core inflation picked up 1.7% on an annual basis, matching the previous reading for the smallest increase since May 2015. The core annual reading 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.

"Earlier this week, Chair Janet Yellen reiterated that the Fed would be watching the incoming inflation data particularly closely over the coming months," RTTNews.com quoted Paul Ashworth, Chief U.S. Economist at Capital Economics. "On the basis of June’s data, it is getting harder for the Fed to continue claiming that this is a temporary drop off," he added.

The following table of key inflation figures is for the last seven months through June, as published by the U.S. Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov/cpi) on July 14, 2017. 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.

December 2016 to June 2017 Consumer Prices – Gains & Losses in Percent

  Dec 2016 Jan 2017 Feb 2017 Mar 2017 Apr 2017 May 2017 June 2017 12 Month
All items 0.3 0.6 0.1 -0.3 0.2 -0.1 .0 1.6
  Food .0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.2 0.2 .0 0.9
    Food at home -0.2 .0 0.3 0.5 0.2 0.1 -0.1 -0.1
    Food away from home 0.2 0.4 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 .0 2.2
  Energy 1.2 4.0 -1.0 -3.2 1.1 -2.7 -1.6 2.3
    Energy commodities 2.4 7.6 -2.8 -6.0 1.3 -6.2 -2.7 .0
      Gasoline (all types) 2.4 7.8 -3.0 -6.2 1.2 -6.4 -2.8 -0.4
      Fuel oil 6.0 3.5 -0.4 -0.8 -0.3 -2.8 -3.7 4.3
    Energy services .0 0.3 1.0 -0.3 0.9 0.7 -0.5 4.6
      Electricity .0 .0 0.8 -0.1 0.6 0.3 -0.6 2.5
      Utility (piped) gas service 0.1 1.5 1.5 -0.8 2.2 1.9 -0.2 12.8
  All items less food, energy 0.2 0.3 0.2 -0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 1.7
    Commodities less food, energy .0 0.4 .0 -0.3 -0.2 -0.3 -0.1 -0.6
      New vehicles 0.1 0.9 -0.2 -0.3 -0.2 -0.2 -0.3 .0
      Used cars and trucks 0.2 -0.4 -0.6 -0.9 -0.5 -0.2 -0.7 -4.3
      Apparel -0.4 1.4 0.6 -0.7 -0.3 -0.8 -0.1 -0.7
      Medical care 0.5 0.3 -0.2 0.2 -0.8 0.4 0.7 3.2
    Services less energy 0.3 0.3 0.3 -0.1 0.1 0.2 0.2 2.5
      Shelter 0.3 0.2 0.3 0.1 0.3 0.2 0.2 3.3
      Transportation 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.4 -0.2 0.3 0.2 3.1
      Medical care 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.1 .0 -0.1 0.3 2.5

 

The BLS releases inflation data around the middle of every month based on consumer prices surveyed through to the previous month. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) for July and the latest annual period will become public on August 11, 2017.

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

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