US Inflation in January 2014 Ticks Up, Annual Inflation Rate at 1.6%

US inflation climbed at a slower pace in January, by an amount considered tame through the eyes of economists.

More noticeable is the rate of inflation over the past 12 months, an increase many Americans can perhaps better associate with as they are reminded of higher costs in energy, food, shelter and medical care.

Consumer prices inched up 0.1% in January, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) said Thursday, Feb. 20, in its monthly report on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) which measures how much Americans pay for a select group of goods and services. The level was in line with most expectations and compares to a revised 0.2% increase in December.

Higher costs for electricity, heating and housing were the biggest drivers in gains.

"Increases in the indexes for household energy accounted for most of the all items increase. The electricity index posted its largest increase since March 2010, and the indexes for natural gas and fuel oil also rose sharply," noted the BLS report. "These increases more than offset a decline in the gasoline index, resulting in a 0.6 percent increase in the energy index."

In rate increases for some specific categories monitored by the US government:

  • Electricity prices shot up 1.8% in January compared to the 0.4% advance in December. Prices are up 4.4% from a year ago.
  • Heating fuel prices jumped 3.7% versus 2.4% previously. They advanced 2% from a year ago.
  • Shelter costs rose 0.3% in January compared to the December gain of 0.2%. The cost of shelter is up 2.6% from a year ago.
  • Food prices edged up 0.1% for the month compared to a revised flat reading for the previous month. They are 1.1% higher than a year ago.

Stripping out the more volatile food and energy items, so-called core consumer prices also advanced 0.1% in January to match the gain in December.

US inflation rose 1.6% year-over-year through January after increasing 1.5% in the 12-month period ended December. The annual rate of inflation has steadily picked up since dipping to a 1% annual gain in October.

"Inflationary pressures remain in check for now," MarketWatch quoted Jim Baird, chief investment officer at Plante Moran Financial Advisors. "Soft global growth in recent years has limited inflation pressures not only in the U.S., but abroad."

Core US inflation over the last 12 months also climbed 1.6% after growing 1.7% in 2013. The annual core inflation rate is the benchmark inflation figure watched by the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) as it helps the committee decide where to set its key interest rate. The 1.6% increase remains below the Fed’s target inflation rate of 2% and is the lowest annual change since hitting the same mark last June.

Immediately below is a table of percentage changes from prices of major consumer goods and services that are surveyed and analyzed by the Bureau of Labor Statistic (BLS) of the US Department of Labor. The data periods are from July through January and over the past 12 months. The table includes BLS- revised prior-month figures.

July 2012 – January 2014 Consumer Prices – Gains & Losses in Percent

  Jul 2013 Aug 2013 Sept 2013 Oct 2013 Nov 2013 Dec 2013 Jan 2014 12 Month
All items 0.2 0.1 0.1 .0 0.1 0.2 0.1 1.6
  Food 0.1 0.1 .0 0.1 0.1 .0 0.1 1.1
    Food at home 0.1 0.1 .0 .0 .0 .0 0.1 0.5
    Food away from home 0.2 0.2 0.1 0.1 0.3 0.1 0.1 2.0
  Energy 0.2 -0.4 0.3 -0.9 -0.4 1.6 0.6 2.1
    Energy commodities 0.7 -0.4 -0.1 -1.5 -0.8 2.6 -0.5 0.5
      Gasoline (all types) 0.8 -0.5 -0.2 -1.6 -0.8 2.6 -1.0 0.1
      Fuel oil 1.1 1.2 0.9 -0.6 0.4 2.4 3.7 2.0
    Energy services -0.6 -0.5 0.8 0.1 .0 0.1 2.2 4.5
      Electricity -0.1 -0.1 0.5 0.2 0.5 0.4 1.8 4.4
      Utility (piped) gas service -2.1 -1.8 1.6 -0.5 -1.5 -1.0 3.6 4.9
  All items less food, energy 0.2 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.2 0.1 0.1 1.6
    Commodities less food, energy .0 .0 -0.1 -0.1 .0 .0 -0.1 -0.3
      New vehicles .0 .0 .1 -0.1 -0.1 .0 -0.3 .0
      Used cars and trucks -0.4 -0.1 0.3 0.4 0.3 .0 -0.5 1.5
      Apparel 0.6 0.2 -0.4 -0.4 -0.1 0.4 -0.3 -0.3
      Medical care 0.2 0.3 0.2 0.3 0.1 -0.6 0.5 0.8
    Services less energy 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.3 0.1 0.2 2.3
      Shelter 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.1 0.3 0.2 0.3 2.6
      Transportation 0.5 -0.3 0.2 0.4 0.3 -0.4 0.1 1.2
      Medical care 0.2 0.6 0.3 .0 .0 0.2 0.2 2.5

 

United States inflation data is published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics about two weeks into a month after analyzing data collected by the end of the reference month. The BLS has scheduled the data release of February inflation in the form of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) on March 18, 2014.

The Consumer Price Index is used to calculate inflation rates and it is used by this site’s Calculator for Inflation. The calculator shows accumulated inflation and the change in buying power of the US dollar between two dates.

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