Core Inflation Highest in Decade; Consumer Prices Rose 0.2% in July

Inflation in the United States grew modestly in July and remained vigorous from a year earlier, according to government data released Friday, August 10, 2018.

Annual increases in overall consumer prices were driven mostly by higher energy and somewhat by food costs. Stripping the two items, however, still had core prices marching at their quickest pace in a decade.

Consumer prices rose 0.2% in July after rising 0.1% in June, the Labor Department said in its monthly report on the Consumer Price Index. The CPI is a broad measure of what Americans pay for everything from coffee to cars.

In key pricing areas:

  • Prices at the pump declined 0.6% last month after climbing 0.5% in June. Still, gasoline prices soared 25.4% from July 2017. The broader index for energy, which combines items like gasoline, electricity and fuel oil, retreated 0.5% in June after falling 0.3% previously. The Labor Department’s report shows energy prices increased 12.1% year-over-year.

  • Food prices edged 0.1% higher in July after moving up 0.2% in June. In the longer haul, food prices advanced 1.4% over the last 12 months.

Excluding the more volatile food and energy components, so-called core consumer prices in July rose 0.2% for a third month in a row.

"Along with the shelter index, the indexes for used cars and trucks, airline fares, new vehicles, household furnishings and operations, and recreation all increased," the report noted. "The indexes for medical care and for apparel both declined in July," it added.

Shelter or housing costs rose 0.3% for the month after rising 0.1% in June. The index grew 3.5% year-on-year. Components of shelter include pricing items like rent for apartments, rental equivalence, lodging away from home such as hotels and motels, and housing at schools. The index accounts for about one-third of the entire CPI.

U.S. inflation surged 2.9% in the 12 months through July, matching the pace in June which went down as the largest level since February 2012. Inflation in the United States has trended upward since the 12-month period ending June 2017.

Core inflation jumped 2.4% from a year earlier, the biggest core rate increase since September 2008, following an annual gain in June of 2.3%. Until March, the 12-month reading had held at either 1.7% or 1.8% for 10 consecutive months. 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.

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). 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.

January to July 2018 Consumer Prices – Gains & Losses in Percent

  Jan 2018 Feb 2018 Mar 2018 Apr 2018 May 2018 June 2018 July 2018 12 Month
All items 0.5 0.2 -0.1 0.2 0.2 0.1 0.2 2.9
  Food 0.2 .0 0.1 0.3 .0 0.2 0.1 1.4
    Food at home 0.1 -0.2 0.1 0.3 -0.2 0.2 0.2 0.4
    Food away from home 0.4 0.2 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.2 0.1 2.8
  Energy 3.0 0.1 -2.8 1.4 0.9 -0.3 -0.5 12.1
    Energy commodities 5.8 -0.9 -4.7 3.0 1.6 0.6 -0.6 25.4
      Gasoline (all types) 5.7 -0.9 -4.9 3.0 1.7 0.5 -0.6 25.4
      Fuel oil 9.5 -3.6 -0.7 2.7 -0.7 2.9 1.2 34.7
    Energy services -0.8 1.4 -0.2 -0.5 -0.1 -1.5 -0.4 -1.0
      Electricity -0.2 0.4 .0 -0.6 0.1 -1.4 -0.4 -0.8
      Utility (piped) gas service -2.6 4.7 -1.2 -0.4 -0.6 -1.7 -0.5 -1.3
  All items less food, energy 0.3 0.2 0.2 0.1 0.2 0.2 0.2 2.4
    Commodities less food, energy 0.4 0.1 -0.1 -0.1 -0.1 .0 0.1 .0
      New vehicles -0.1 -0.5 .0 -0.5 0.3 0.4 0.3 0.2
      Used cars and trucks 0.4 -0.3 -0.3 -1.6 -0.9 0.7 1.3 0.8
      Apparel 1.7 1.5 -0.6 0.3 .0 -0.9 -0.3 0.3
      Medical care -0.1 -0.3 0.1 -0.2 1.3 0.2 -1.1 0.4
    Services less energy 0.3 0.2 0.3 0.2 0.3 0.2 0.3 3.1
      Shelter 0.2 0.2 0.4 0.3 0.3 0.1 0.3 3.5
      Transportation 0.8 1.0 0.2 -0.4 .0 0.2 0.5 4.0
      Medical care 0.6 .0 0.5 0.2 -0.1 0.5 0.1 2.3

 

The BLS usually releases inflation data around the middle of every month based on consumer prices surveyed in the previous month. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) for July and the latest annual period become public on September 13, 2018.

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.

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