Consumer prices surged 0.7 percent in February 2013. It was the first increase since October and it was the biggest gain going back to June 2009. Consumer prices were flat overall in January and December.
The higher-than-expected pick-up was attributed mostly to more expensive energy. In particular, gasoline prices soared 9.1 percent in February. Prices at the pump fell 3 percent in the previous month. Core consumer prices in February rose 0.2 percent. The core inflation rate excludes the more volatile food and energy prices.
US inflation over the past 12 months went up to 2 percent, which is also the highest since October (see recent US inflation rates). The US inflation level for the 12-month period ended January was 1.6 percent. The core inflation rate over the past year was also 2 percent.
US Inflation: December 2012 – February 2013 Consumer Prices
|Dec 2012||Jan 2013||Feb 2013||12
|Food at home||0.2||.0||0.1||1.2|
|Food away from home||0.1||0.1||0.1||2.3|
|Gasoline (all types)||-1.9||-3.0||9.1||3.3|
|Utility (piped) gas service||0.7||-1.7||1.2||1.3|
|All items less food, energy||0.1||0.3||0.2||2.0|
|Commodities less food, energy||-0.1||0.2||.0||0.3|
|Used cars and trucks||-0.3||0.2||0.8||-0.2|
|Services less energy||0.2||0.3||0.2||2.6|
The following is the Consumer Price Index summary released today, March 15, 2013, by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):
The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.7 percent in February on a seasonally adjusted basis, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, the all items index increased 2.0 percent before seasonal adjustment.
The gasoline index rose 9.1 percent in February to account for almost three-fourths of the seasonally adjusted all items increase. The indexes for electricity, natural gas, and fuel oil also increased, leading to a 5.4 percent rise in the energy index. The food index increased slightly in February, rising 0.1 percent. A sharp increase in the fruits and vegetables index was the major cause of the 0.1 percent increase in the food at home index, with other major grocery store food group indexes mixed.
The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.2 percent in February. The indexes for shelter, used cars and trucks, recreation, and medical care all rose in February. These increases more than offset declines in the indexes for new vehicles, apparel, airline fares, and tobacco.
The all items index increased 2.0 percent over the last 12 months compared to a 1.6 percent increase for the 12 months ending January. The index for all items less food and energy also increased 2.0 percent over the last 12 months. The energy index increased 2.3 percent and the food index rose 1.6 percent.
The food index rose 0.1 percent in February after being unchanged in January. The food at home index also rose 0.1 percent and has increased 1.2 percent over the past year. Among major grocery store food group indexes, the fruits and vegetables index rose 1.4 percent, with both the fresh fruits and fresh vegetables indexes increasing 1.8 percent. The index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs also rose in February, increasing 0.5 percent. The index for nonalcoholic beverages was unchanged in February, while the remaining major grocery store food group indexes declined. The index for other food at home fell 0.6 percent as the indexes for sugars and sweets and for fats and oils declined. The index for dairy and related products declined 0.4 percent and the cereals and bakery products index fell 0.2 percent; both indexes rose in January. The index for food away from home rose 0.1 percent in February, its fifth straight such increase, and has risen 2.3 percent over the past year.
The energy index rose 5.4 percent in February after declining in each of the three previous months. All major energy component indexes increased. The gasoline index, which fell 3.0 percent in January, rose 9.1 percent in February. (Before seasonal adjustment, gasoline prices increased 10.1 percent in February.) The index for fuel oil rose 3.1 percent after declining the previous month. Similarly, the index for natural gas rose 1.2 percent in February after a January decline. The index for electricity, which rose 1.1 percent in January, increased 0.3 percent in February. All of the major energy components show modest increases over the past 12 months, ranging from 0.8 percent for electricity to 3.3 percent for gasoline.
All items less food and energy
The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.2 percent in February after rising 0.3 percent in January. The shelter index rose 0.2 percent in February, the same increase as last month. The rent index rose 0.3 percent, while the index for owners’ equivalent rent increased 0.2 percent. The index for used cars and trucks increased 0.8 percent in February, its largest increase since May. The index for recreation rose 0.3 percent in February, the same increase as in January. The medical care index rose 0.2 percent as an increase in the index for medical care services more than offset a decline in the medical care commodities index. The index for personal care also rose in February, while the index for household furnishings and operations was unchanged. In contrast, the new vehicles index declined in February, falling 0.3 percent; this was its largest decline since January 2010. The apparel index, which rose 0.8 percent in January, fell 0.1 percent in February. The index for airline fares declined in February, falling 0.3 percent after increasing in each of the five previous months. The index for tobacco also turned down, decreasing 0.2 percent after rising in December and January.
The index for all items less food and energy increased 2.0 percent for the 12 months ending February, a rate slightly higher than its 1.9 percent average annualized increase over the past ten years. The medical care index rose 3.1 percent over the last 12 months, the shelter index increased 2.3 percent, and the index for new vehicles advanced 1.1 percent.
Not seasonally adjusted CPI measures
The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 2.0 percent over the last 12 months to an index level of 232.166 (1982-84=100). For the month, the index increased 0.8 percent prior to seasonal adjustment. The Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) increased 1.9 percent over the last 12 months to an index level of 228.677 (1982-84=100). For the month, the index increased 1.0 percent prior to seasonal adjustment. The Chained Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (C-CPI-U) increased 1.8 percent over the last 12 months. For the month, the index increased 0.7 percent on a not seasonally adjusted basis. Please note that the indexes for the post-2011 period are subject to revision.
The Consumer Price Index for March 2013 is scheduled to be released on Tuesday, April 16, 2013, at 8:30 a.m. (EDT).