US Inflation Gains in September; Annual Rate Near 2-Year High

U.S. inflation ran at the fastest pace in five months as consumers spent more for gasoline and shelter.

The advances also quickened the annual rate of inflation by the most in nearly two years, according to government data released on Tuesday, October 18.

In the headline figure, consumer prices climbed 0.3% in September after rising 0.2% in August, the Labor Department said in its monthly report on the Consumer Price Index. The CPI measures what American consumers pay for everything from airline fares to fruits and vegetables.

Gasoline prices surged 5.8% last month after declines of 0.9% in August and 4.7% in July. They accounted for more than half of the consumer price gains, the Labor Department’s report noted. Still, prices at the pump are 6.5% lower than a year ago.

The broader index for energy, which combines items like gasoline, electricity and fuel oil, picked up 2.9% after coming in flat previously. Overall energy prices have declined 2.9% over the past 12 months.

Food prices were unchanged for a third month in a row and they fell 0.3% from a year earlier.

Stripping food and energy, core consumer prices rose 0.1% after climbing 0.3% in August.

The shelter index increased 0.4%, its largest gain since May, and has jumped 3.4% over the last 12 months.

Medical care costs rose 0.2% last month, the smallest gain since March, after surging as high as 1% in August. The cost of medical care services was unchanged, though prescription drugs increased 0.8%.

U.S. inflation advanced by a rate of 1.5% year-over year, the highest rate of annual inflation since October 2014, following the 1.1% increase reported in August.

In rounding out the Labor Department’s report, core U.S. inflation ran 2.2% quicker on an annual basis after moving at a 2.3% pace in the 12 months ended August. 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 the key interest rate.

"The upward creep of prices weakens any argument against a rate increase in December," Reuters quoted Anthony Karydakis, chief economic strategist at Miller Tabak in New York. "The economy is close to full employment and prices are starting to respond to that reality."

Inflation data below is for the last seven months through September, as published by the US Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov/cpi). To get the data, the BLS monitors prices of consumer goods and services from around the nation. These prices are continually collected, analyzed and then summarized in monthly reports. The data offers the monthly and latest annual changes in percentages.

March to September 2016 Consumer Prices – Gains & Losses in Percent

  Mar 2016 Apr 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 Aug 2016 Sept 2016 12 Month
All items 0.1 0.4 0.2 0.2 .0 0.2 0.3 1.5
  Food -0.2 0.2 -0.2 -0.1 .0 .0 .0 -0.3
    Food at home -0.5 0.1 -0.5 -0.3 -0.2 -0.2 -0.1 -2.2
    Food away from home 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 2.4
  Energy 0.9 3.4 1.2 1.3 -1.6 .0 2.9 -2.9
    Energy commodities 1.9 7.8 2.4 3.3 -4.4 -0.9 5.5 -6.4
      Gasoline (all types) 2.2 8.1 2.3 3.3 -4.7 -0.9 5.8 -6.5
      Fuel oil 1.7 1.9 6.2 3.3 -1.3 -2.5 2.4 -8.5
    Energy services 0.2 -0.1 0.2 -0.5 1.0 0.8 0.7 0.7
      Electricity 0.4 -0.3 -0.2 -0.5 0.5 0.5 0.7 0.1
      Utility (piped) gas service -0.7 0.6 1.7 -0.4 3.1 2.1 0.8 2.9
  All items less food, energy 0.1 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.1 0.3 0.1 2.2
    Commodities less food, energy -0.2 -0.1 -0.2 -0.2 -0.1 0.1 -0.1 -0.6
      New vehicles .0 -0.3 -0.1 -0.2 0.2 .0 -0.1 .0
      Used cars and trucks -0.1 -0.3 -1.3 -1.1 -1.0 -0.6 -0.3 -4.1
      Apparel -1.1 -0.3 0.8 -0.4 .0 0.2 -0.7 -0.1
      Medical care 0.3 0.5 -0.2 1.1 0.4 1.1 0.6 5.2
    Services less energy 0.2 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.2 0.3 0.2 3.2
      Shelter 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.3 0.2 0.3 0.4 3.4
      Transportation 0.2 0.7 0.3 0.3 -0.2 0.1 .0 3.0
      Medical care 0.1 0.3 0.5 0.2 0.5 0.9 .0 4.8

 

The BLS publishes inflation data around the middle of a month with consumer prices surveyed through the previous month. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) for September and the latest 12-month or annual period becomes public on October 18, 2016.

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

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