The cost of living in the United States picked up for a third straight month in May, according to a government report released on Thursday, June 16.
Increases in the prices of goods and services were again broad-based, led by energy, although US consumers did catch a bit of a break with declining food prices. In addition, inflation over the longer haul eased compared to a month earlier.
In the headline monthly figure, consumer prices rose 0.2% in May after rising 0.4% in April, the US Labor Department revealed in its monthly report on the Consumer Price Index. The CPI measures what American consumers pay for everything from cars to tobacco.
Gas prices advanced 2.3% last month after soaring in April by 8.1% for the biggest jump since August 2012. Despite three consecutive monthly increases, prices at the pump are 16.9% lower than a year ago.
The broader index for energy, which combines items like gasoline, electricity and fuel oil, rose 1.2% in May after rising 3.4% previously. Still, energy prices are 10.1% lower than a year earlier.
Food prices declined 0.2%, exactly reversing the prior month’s increase. They are 0.7% higher over the past 12 months.
Stripping volatile food and energy, so-called core consumer prices also moved 0.2% higher in May, matching the prior month’s gain.
Notably, the cost of owning a home or renting an apartment climbed 0.4%, the largest increase since February 2007, and is 3.4% higher than a year ago. Medical care continues to rise, up 0.5% last month and 3.5% from a year earlier. Also, the cost of clothing rose 0.8% after two straight monthly declines, and has picked up 0.5% over the past 12 months.
US inflation advanced at a rate of 1.0% over the past year after rising 1.1% previously. The level has dropped compared to earlier in the year. In January, the inflation rate registered at 1.4% for the largest increase since October 2014.
In closing out the Labor Department’s report, core US inflation moved 2.2% quicker on an annual basis after running at a 2.1% pace in the 12 months ended April. The core annual 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.
"It’s a pretty tame overall rise and in the context of higher energy perhaps a tad friendlier though the core level is as expected and notably up near the Fed’s target," Barron’s quoted David Ader of CRT Capital. "Gains were pretty broad so we won’t simply dismiss this a function of energy."
Inflation data below is from the last few months and up through May 2016, as published by the US Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov/cpi). To get the data, the BLS monitors prices of consumer goods and services from around the nation. They are collected continually, analyzed and then summarized in monthly reports. The table offers monthly and annual changes in percentages.
November 2015 to May 2016 Consumer Prices – Gains & Losses in Percent
|Nov 2015||Dec 2015||Jan 2016||Feb 2016||Mar 2016||Apr 2016||May 2016||12 Month|
|Food at home||-0.3||-0.4||-0.2||0.2||-0.5||0.1||-0.5||-0.7|
|Food away from home||0.2||0.1||0.3||0.1||0.2||0.2||0.2||2.6|
|Gasoline (all types)||0.8||-4.8||-4.8||-13.0||2.2||8.1||2.3||-16.9|
|Utility (piped) gas service||-1.7||-1.9||-0.6||1.0||-0.7||0.6||1.7||-4.7|
|All items less food, energy||0.2||0.2||0.3||0.3||0.1||0.2||0.2||2.2|
|Commodities less food, energy||-0.1||-0.1||0.2||0.3||-0.2||-0.1||-0.2||-0.5|
|Used cars and trucks||0.1||0.2||0.1||0.2||-0.1||-0.3||-1.3||-2.3|
|Services less energy||0.3||0.2||0.3||0.3||0.2||0.3||0.3||3.2|
The BLS usually releases new inflation data around mid-month, with US consumer prices current to the previous month. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) for June and the latest 12-month or annual period will be available on July 15, 2016.
CPI data is used in calculating inflation rates, and in this site’s calculator for inflation. The US Inflation Calculator tool, found on the homepage, shows accumulated inflation and the change in buying power of the American dollar over time.