US Inflation Heats Up in August as Gas and Housing Costs Rise

Inflation in the United States picked up in August and on an annual basis, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Thursday, September 14.

More expensive gasoline and accelerated housing costs were key drivers for the increases.

Consumer prices picked up 0.4% in August after climbing 0.1% in July, 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 jumped 6.3% for their first increase in four months. They climbed 10.4% from a year ago. The broader index for energy, which combines items like gasoline, electricity and fuel oil, rose 2.8% in August after three monthly declines. They are 6.4% higher than a year ago.

Food prices moved up 0.1% for their seventh increase in eight months. They climbed 1.1% from a year earlier.

Stripping the more volatile food and energy components, so-called core consumer prices rose 0.2% in August following four straight monthly increases of 0.1%.

Within the grouping, shelter or housing costs climbed quicker at 0.5% — the biggest monthly increase since 2005, after the prior month’s 0.1% gain and, before then, two monthly and matching increases of 0.2%. They advanced 3.3% 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.

Other item increases for the month included medical care services by 0.2%, clothing by 0.1%, and transportation by 0.4%. Falling items included medical care commodities by 0.1% and used cars and trucks prices by 0.2%. New vehicle prices were flat.

U.S. inflation advanced 1.9% from the same month a year earlier after advancing 1.7% previously. As recently as February, the annual inflation rate jumped 2.7% for biggest increase since March 2012.

Core inflation rose 1.9% on an annual basis following three consecutive 1.7% gains, which were the smallest increases since May 2015.

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.

"Today’s report should ease some of the low inflation concerns among wavering Fed officials, and we continue to expect the leadership will prevail in getting another hike in at the December meeting," Reuters quoted Michael Feroli, an economist at JPMorgan in New York.

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

February to August 2017 Consumer Prices – Gains & Losses in Percent

  Feb 2017 Mar 2017 Apr 2017 May 2017 Jun 2017 Jul 2017 Aug 2017 12 Month
All items 0.1 -0.3 0.2 -0.1 .0 0.1 0.4 1.9
  Food 0.2 0.3 0.2 0.2 .0 0.2 0.1 1.1
    Food at home 0.3 0.5 0.2 0.1 -0.1 0.2 -0.2 0.3
    Food away from home 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 .0 0.2 0.3 2.2
  Energy -1.0 -3.2 1.1 -2.7 -1.6 -0.1 2.8 6.4
    Energy commodities -2.8 -6.0 1.3 -6.2 -2.7 .0 6.1 10.3
      Gasoline (all types) -3.0 -6.2 1.2 -6.4 -2.8 .0 6.3 10.4
      Fuel oil -0.4 -0.8 -0.3 -2.8 -3.7 -2.0 2.9 9.4
    Energy services 1.0 -0.3 0.9 0.7 -0.5 -0.2 -0.1 2.9
      Electricity 0.8 -0.1 0.6 0.3 -0.6 0.4 .0 2.3
      Utility (piped) gas service 1.5 -0.8 2.2 1.9 -0.2 -2.3 -0.5 5.4
  All items less food, energy 0.2 -0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.2 1.7
    Commodities less food, energy .0 -0.3 -0.2 -0.3 -0.1 -0.1 -0.1 -0.9
      New vehicles -0.2 -0.3 -0.2 -0.2 -0.3 -0.5 .0 -0.7
      Used cars and trucks -0.6 -0.9 -0.5 -0.2 -0.7 -0.5 -0.2 -3.8
      Apparel 0.6 -0.7 -0.3 -0.8 -0.1 0.3 0.1 -0.6
      Medical care -0.2 0.2 -0.8 0.4 0.7 1.0 -0.1 2.4
    Services less energy 0.3 -0.1 0.1 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.4 2.5
      Shelter 0.3 0.1 0.3 0.2 0.2 0.1 0.5 3.3
      Transportation 0.7 0.4 -0.2 0.3 0.2 0.2 0.4 3.5
      Medical care 0.2 0.1 .0 -0.1 0.3 0.3 0.2 1.6

 

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 September and the latest annual period becomes public on October 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