U.S. Annual Inflation Highest in Year; Consumer Prices in November Rise

The pace of inflation in the United States slowed some in October but the 12-month rate hit a one-year high, a government report showed Wednesday, Dec. 11.

 

Again, what has become a shared pattern since May, on an annual level food prices increased while energy prices declined.

U.S. consumer prices rose 0.3% in November after rising 0.4% in October, the Labor Department said in its monthly report on the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The CPI is a broad measure of what Americans pay for everyday items ranging from eggs to electricity.

In key pricing categories:

  • Prices at the pump moved up 1.1% in November on top of the 3.7% jump in October. Gasoline prices fell 1.2% from a year ago. The broader index for energy, which combines items like gasoline, electricity and fuel oil, advanced 0.8% last month after picking up 2.7% previously. Energy prices dipped 0.6% lower year-over-year.

  • Overall prices for food rose 0.1% from 0.2%. Food prices increased 2% year-over-year.

Excluding the more volatile food and energy components, so-called core consumer prices rose 0.2% in November, matching October’s increase.

Shelter or housing costs increased 0.3% after edging up 0.1% in October, while their year-over-year pace was 3.3% for a second straight time. 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.

"Increases in the shelter and energy indexes were major factors in the seasonally adjusted monthly increase of the all items index. Increases in the indexes for medical care, for recreation, and for food also contributed to the overall increase," the Labor Department’s monthly report stated.

Medical care prices rose — 0.1% in commodities and 0.4% in services. Also costing more for the month were clothing, up 0.1%, and used car and truck prices, up 0.6%.

New vehicles prices edged 0.1% lower. Airline fares also moved lower, by 0.9%.

In the headline annual figure, U.S. inflation increased 2.1% in the 12 months through November from 1.8%. The latest inflation pace was the highest since November 2018. For the year so far, February’s mark of 1.5% was the lowest as well as the weakest since September 2016.

Core inflation grew 2.3% over the last 12 months, the same as the previous increase after two consecutive monthly increases of 2.4% — the quickest core rates since July 2018. This "all items less food and energy" index 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 November, as published by the U.S. Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov/cpi) on Dec. 11, 2019. 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.

May to December 2019 Consumer Prices – Gains & Losses in Percent

  May 2019 June 2019 July 2019 Aug 2019 Sept 2019 Oct 2019 Nov 2019 12 Month
All items 0.1 0.1 0.3 0.1 .0 0.4 0.3 2.1
  Food 0.3 .0 .0 .0 0.1 0.2 0.1 2.0
    Food at home 0.3 -0.2 -0.1 -0.2 .0 0.3 0.1 1.0
    Food away from home 0.2 0.3 0.2 0.2 0.3 0.2 0.2 3.2
  Energy -0.6 -2.3 1.3 -1.9 -1.4 2.7 0.8 -0.6
    Energy commodities -0.4 -3.5 2.4 -3.3 -2.3 3.5 1.1 -1.5
      Gasoline (all types) -0.5 -3.6 2.5 -3.5 -2.4 3.7 1.1 -1.2
      Fuel oil -0.3 -2.3 0.6 -0.9 -0.8 0.8 1.4 -6.7
    Energy services -0.8 -0.7 .0 -0.2 -0.1 1.8 0.4 0.6
      Electricity -0.8 -0.8 0.6 -0.3 .0 1.6 0.3 0.5
      Utility (piped) gas service -1.0 -0.3 -1.8 0.1 -0.7 2.4 1.1 1.1
  All items less food, energy 0.1 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.1 0.2 0.2 2.3
    Commodities less food, energy -0.1 0.4 0.2 0.2 -0.3 -0.1 .0 0.1
      New vehicles 0.1 0.1 -0.2 -0.1 -0.1 -0.2 -0.1 -0.1
      Used cars and trucks -1.4 1.6 0.9 1.1 -1.6 1.3 0.6 -0.4
      Apparel .0 1.1 0.4 0.2 -0.4 -1.8 0.1 -1.6
      Medical care -0.4 -0.2 0.2 0.3 -0.6 1.2 0.1 0.6
    Services less energy 0.2 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.2 0.3 3.0
      Shelter 0.2 0.3 0.3 0.2 0.3 0.1 0.3 3.3
      Transportation 0.1 .0 0.3 0.4 0.3 0.1 .0 0.8
      Medical care 0.5 0.4 0.5 0.9 0.4 0.9 0.4 5.1

 

The BLS tends to release inflation data around the middle of a month based on consumer prices surveyed in the previous month. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) for December and the latest annual period become public on January 14, 2019.

CPI data is used in calculating inflation rates and in this site’s U.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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