US consumer prices dipped in December, according to a government report released on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016. Inflation for all of 2015 was the second weakest for a calendar year in more than five decades.
Declines for the month were mostly the result of cheaper food and gasoline. The price for food at home fell in 2015 for only the third time in the past 50 years.
Consumer prices declined 0.1% in December after being unchanged in November, the US Labor Department said in its monthly report on the Consumer Price Index. The CPI measures what American consumers pay for everything from cars to airline fares to fruits and vegetables.
Prices at the pump fell for a second month in a row, down 3.9% after falling 2.4% previously. They are 19.7% lower than a year earlier and continue to slide. The average cost of a gallon of regular gasoline was $1.87 on Jan. 20, the lowest mark since February 2009, according to AAA.
The broader pricing index for energy, which combines items like gasoline, electricity and fuel oil, dropped 2.4% in December following the prior month’s 1.3% decline. Overall, energy prices in 2015 dived by 12.6%.
The cost of food also declined for a second straight month, slipping 0.2% after easing 0.1% in November. In 2015, overall food prices still rose 0.8%.
Excluding volatile food and energy, so-called core consumer prices edged up 0.1% after rising 0.2% for three straight months.
"The index for shelter continued to rise, and the indexes for medical care, household furnishings and operations, motor vehicle insurance, education, used cars and trucks, and tobacco also increased in December," the Labor Department’s report said.
"However, a number of indexes declined, including those for apparel, airline fares, personal care, new vehicles, and communication," it added.
US inflation advanced 0.7% in 2015, the largest annual increase since a year earlier when the rate for 2014 logged in at 0.8%. As recently as April, inflation fell by 0.2% for the largest 12-month decline in more than five years.
As for a calendar year, the level actually marks the smallest gain since the 0.1% increase in 2008. The weakest inflation rate for a year before then was in 1961, which was also at 0.7%.
In rounding out the Labor Department’s report, core US inflation rose 2.1% on an annual basis, the biggest increase since July 2012, and after rising 2.0% in the 12 months through November. The core 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.
Inflation data through December 2015 is presented below. The table lists monthly and annual percentage changes in the prices of major consumer goods and services. The US Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov/cpi) monitors these prices around the country, analyzes them, and then summarizes their results in monthly reports.
June 2014 – December 2015 Consumer Prices – Gains & Losses in Percent
|June 2015||July 2015||Aug 2015||Sept 2015||Oct 2015||Nov 2015||Dec 2015||12 Month|
|Food at home||0.4||0.3||0.3||0.3||0.1||-0.3||-0.5||-0.4|
|Food away from home||0.2||.0||0.2||0.5||0.2||0.2||0.1||2.6|
|Gasoline (all types)||3.4||0.9||-4.1||-9.0||0.4||-2.4||-3.9||-19.7|
|Utility (piped) gas service||0.3||-1.4||1.3||-0.3||-0.7||-1.9||-2.3||-14.9|
|All items less food, energy||0.2||0.1||0.1||0.2||0.2||0.2||0.1||2.1|
|Commodities less food, energy||-0.1||-0.1||-0.1||.0||-0.1||-0.2||-0.1||-0.4|
|Used cars and trucks||-0.4||-0.6||-0.4||-0.2||-0.3||-0.1||0.1||0.4|
|Services less energy||0.3||0.2||0.1||0.3||0.3||0.3||0.2||2.9|
US inflation data from the BLS is usually published around mid-month, and it presents the change in consumer prices through to the previous month. The Consumer Price Index for January and through to the latest annual period becomes public on Feb. 19, 2016.
CPI figures are used in calculating inflation rates. It is the backbone for this site’s inflation calculator. The US Inflation Calculator provides accumulated inflation and shows the change in buying power of the US dollar over time.