The cost of living in the United States was unchanged in November as cheaper gasoline and food kept overall consumer prices in check, according to a government report released on Tuesday, December 15.
Still, the broader trend of underlying inflation showed signs of firming with steady gains in the cost of rents, medical care, and transportation fares.
Consumer prices were flat in November after climbing 0.2% in October, the US Labor Department said in its monthly report on the Consumer Price Index. The CPI measures what American consumers pay for everything from dentists’ services to airline fares and eggs.
Seasonally adjusted gasoline prices dropped 2.4% last month after rising 0.4% previously. They are 24.1% lower than a year earlier. The broader pricing index for energy, which combines items like gasoline, electricity and fuel oil, fell 1.3% after the prior month’s 0.3% increase. Overall energy prices are down 14.7% from a year ago.
The cost of food dipped 0.1% in November, the first decline since March. In the last 12 months, food prices have jumped 1.3%.
Excluding volatile food and energy, so-called core consumer prices rose 0.2% for a third month in a row.
"The indexes for shelter, medical care, airline fares, new vehicles, and tobacco were among the indexes that rose in November," the report said. "In contrast, the indexes for recreation, apparel, household furnishings and operations, and used cars and trucks all declined."
US inflation advanced 0.5% in the past year, the largest increase since the 12 months ended December 2014 and after a 0.2% year-over-year advance in the prior month.
In rounding out the Labor Department’s report, core US inflation increased 2.0% on an annual basis, its largest increase since the 12 months ending May 2014 and after two straight year-over-year gains of 1.9%. 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.
"The uptick in inflation in November supports the notion that the American economy is ready to move off zero interest rates," USA Today quoted economist Leslie Preston of Capital Economics.
Inflation data through November 2015 is presented below. The table shows 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.
May 2014 – November 2015 Consumer Prices – Gains & Losses in Percent
|May 2015||June 2015||July 2015||August 2015||September 2015||October 2015||November 2015||12 Month|
|Food at home||-0.2||0.4||0.3||0.3||0.3||0.1||-0.3||0.3|
|Food away from home||0.2||0.2||.0||0.2||0.5||0.2||0.2||2.7|
|Gasoline (all types)||10.4||3.4||0.9||-4.1||-9.0||0.4||-2.4||-24.1|
|Utility (piped) gas service||.0||0.3||-1.4||1.3||-0.3||-0.7||-1.9||-11.7|
|All items less food, energy||0.1||0.2||0.1||0.1||0.2||0.2||0.2||2.0|
|Commodities less food, energy||-0.1||-0.1||-0.1||-0.1||.0||-0.1||-0.2||-0.6|
|Used cars and trucks||-0.4||-0.4||-0.6||-0.4||-0.2||-0.3||-0.1||-0.6|
|Services less energy||0.2||0.3||0.2||0.1||0.3||0.3||0.3||2.9|
US inflation information from the BLS is usually published around mid-month, and presents the change in consumer prices through to the previous month. The Consumer Price Index for December and through to the latest annual period becomes public on Jan. 20, 2016.
CPI data is 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.