U.S. consumer prices in August declined for the first time since April 2013 as increased food costs were offset by sharply lower gasoline prices, data released Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014 by the U.S. Labor Department shows.
In addition to gas prices, other major categories monitored by the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics to fall included fuel oil, used cars, used trucks, apparel and transportation. Other rising categories beside food included new vehicles, housing, rent, and lodging away from home.
The Consumer Price Index, or CPI, fell 0.2% in August after rising 0.1% in July. Many economists were expecting a flat reading, not the decline.
Food prices grew 0.2% compared to 0.4% previously. Within the grouping, meats, poultry, fish and eggs rose 1.5%. Beef prices soared 4.2% for the biggest gain since November 2003.
Stripping food and energy, the so-called core inflation rate was unchanged in August following the prior two monthly increases of 0.1%.
12-Month Change in Consumer Prices
In the August 2013 to August 2014 period, the inflation rate climbed 1.7% after picking up 2% in July and 2.1% during the previous two months. (See U.S. inflation rates since 1980.)
Core consumer prices also rose 1.7% in the past 12 months after the prior two months of 1.9% gains. The level is 0.3% below the Federal Reserve target inflation rate.
Below are major consumer prices by category and their month-over-month changes. The final column offers year-over-year changes. The prices for these items are gathered and published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) each month.
US Inflation: Feb – Aug 2014 Consumer Prices (%)
|Feb 2014||Mar 2014||Apr 2014||May 2014||June 2014||July 2014||Aug 2014||12 Month|
|Food at home||0.5||0.5||0.4||0.7||.0||0.4||0.2||2.9|
|Food away from home||0.3||0.3||0.3||0.2||0.2||0.3||0.2||2.5|
|Gasoline (all types)||-1.7||-1.7||2.3||0.7||3.3||-0.3||-4.1||-2.8|
|Utility (piped) gas service||3.6||7.5||0.3||-1.7||-2.6||-0.4||-2.8||5.8|
|All items less food, energy||0.1||0.2||0.2||0.3||0.1||0.1||.0||1.7|
|Commodities less food, energy||-0.1||.0||0.1||0.1||0.1||.0||-0.1||-0.4|
|Used cars and trucks||-0.1||0.4||0.5||-0.1||-0.4||-0.3||-0.3||.0|
|Services less energy||0.2||0.3||0.3||0.3||0.1||0.1||.0||2.5|
The following paragraphs offer the summary report of the Consumer Price Index by the Labor Department’s BLS as published on Wednesday, September 17, 2014.
Summary of Consumer Prices for August 2014
The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) decreased 0.2% in August on a seasonally adjusted basis, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, the all items index increased 1.7% before seasonal adjustment.
The seasonally adjusted decline in the all items index was the first since April 2013. The indexes for food and shelter rose, but the increases were more than offset by declines in energy indexes, especially gasoline. The energy index fell 2.6%, with the gasoline index declining 4.1% and the indexes for natural gas and fuel oil also decreasing.
The index for all items less food and energy was unchanged in August; this was the first month since October 2010 that the index did not increase. While the shelter index increased and the indexes for new vehicles and for alcoholic beverages also rose, these advances were offset by declines in several indexes, including airline fares, recreation, household furnishings and operations, apparel, and used cars and trucks.
The all items index increased 1.7% over the last 12 months, a decline from the 2.0% figure for the 12 months ending July, and the smallest 12-month change since March. The index for all items less food and energy also rose 1.7% over the last 12 months. The food index has risen 2.7% over the span, while the energy index has increased 0.4%.
The food index rose 0.2% in August after increasing 0.4% in July. The food at home index was also up 0.2%, with the six major grocery store food group indexes split between three increases and three declines. The index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs rose 1.5% in August, the largest increase among the groups.
The index for beef and veal rose 4.2%, its largest increase since November 2003. The index for dairy and related products rose 0.6%, and the cereals and bakery products index advanced 0.2%. In contrast, the index for fruits and vegetables fell 0.8% in August, with the indexes for fresh fruits and fresh vegetables both declining. The index for nonalcoholic beverages also declined in August; its 0.2% decrease was its first decline since April.
The index for other food at home, which rose 0.7% in July, decreased 0.2% in August. Over the last 12 months, the food at home index has risen 2.9%, with the index for meats, poultry, fish and eggs up 8.8%. Nonalcoholic beverages was the only major grocery store food group index to decline over the span, falling 0.2%. The index for food away from home advanced 0.2% in August and has increased 2.5% over the past 12 months.
The energy index, which declined 0.3% in July, fell 2.6% in August, its largest decline since March 2013. The gasoline index fell 4.1% in August following a 0.3% decline in July. (Gasoline prices also decreased 4.1% before seasonal adjustment.) The index for natural gas also fell in August; its 2.8% decline was the fourth decrease in a row. The fuel oil index declined for the sixth consecutive month, falling 1.2%. The electricity index was the only major energy component index to increase in August, advancing 0.1%.
Over the last 12 months, the index for natural gas has risen 5.8% despite the recent declines, and the electricity index has increased 4.1%. However, the gasoline index has decreased 2.8% and the fuel oil index has declined 0.2%.
All items less food and energy
The index for all items less food and energy was unchanged in August after rising 0.1% in both June and July. The shelter index advanced 0.2% in August after a 0.3% increase in July. The indexes for rent and owners’ equivalent rent both increased 0.2%, while the lodging away from home index rose 0.8%. The index for alcoholic beverages rose 0.8% in August, its largest increase since January 2007. The new vehicles index, which increased 0.3% in July, rose 0.2% in August, and the personal care index advanced 0.1%.
In contrast to these increases, the index for airline fares fell sharply for the second month in a row, declining 4.7%. The recreation index fell 0.4% in August, its largest decline since December 2009. The index for household furnishings and operations fell 0.3%, and the apparel index declined 0.2%. The medical care index was unchanged in August, the first time since December 2013 it did not increase. The index for medical care services was unchanged, as was the index for prescription drugs. The tobacco index was also unchanged in August.
The index for all items less food and energy has risen 1.7% over the last 12 months. The shelter index has risen 2.9% over this span, and the medical care index has increased 2.1%. The index for new vehicles has risen 0.4%, while the indexes for apparel and for used cars and trucks are both unchanged over the span. The index for airline fares has declined 2.7%.
Not seasonally adjusted CPI measures
The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 1.7% over the last 12 months to an index level of 237.852 (1982-84=100). For the month, the index fell 0.2% prior to seasonal adjustment.
The Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) increased 1.6% over the last 12 months to an index level of 234.030 (1982-84=100). For the month, the index fell 0.2% prior to seasonal adjustment.
The Chained Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (C-CPI-U) increased 1.5% over the last 12 months. For the month, the index fell 0.2% on a not seasonally adjusted basis. Please note that the indexes for the post-2012 period are subject to revision.
Next CPI Release
The CPI release date for September 2014 is Wednesday, October 22, 2014 at 8:30 a.m. (EDT).