U.S. consumer prices rose more than expected in March as did the annual rate of inflation, U.S. Labor Department data released Tuesday, April 15, 2014, shows.
Higher food and housing costs accounted for the biggest portion of March increases with lower energy prices offsetting.
According to the U.S. government’s report for March, the Consumer Price Index, or CPI, increased 0.2% after advancing 0.1% in February — the level most economists were expecting again.
Food prices rose 0.4%, equaling the previous month which was marked as the biggest gain in 2 1/2 years. Shelter costs rose 0.3%. Energy prices dipped 0.1% but not all categories within it dropped. Gas prices declined 1.7% and fuel oil dropped 2.9% while electricity costs went up 2.6% and natural gas surged 7.5%.
"Today’s report shows that prices seem well contained, unless, of course, you had to go out and buy food or heat your house," said Joel Naroff, president and chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors.
Stripping food and energy prices from the conversation, the so-called core inflation rate also rose 0.2% after three straight months of 0.1% increases.
12-Month Change in Consumer Prices
In the March 2013 to March 2014 period, the rate of inflation climbed 1.5% after rising 1.1% in February.
Finally, core consumer prices in the past 12 months rose 1.7% compared to 1.6% previously. The Federal Reserve has a target annual core inflation rate of 2%, pegging that mark as optimal for economic improvement under current conditions.
This table has 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: September 2013 – March 2014 Consumer Prices (%)
|Sept 2013||Oct 2013||Nov 2013||Dec 2013||Jan 2014||Feb 2014||Mar 2014||12 Month|
|Food at home||.0||.0||.0||.0||0.1||0.5||0.5||1.4|
|Food away from home||0.1||0.1||0.3||0.1||0.1||0.3||0.3||2.3|
|Gasoline (all types)||-0.2||-1.6||-0.8||2.6||-1.0||-1.7||-1.7||-4.7|
|Utility (piped) gas service||1.6||-0.5||-1.5||-1.0||3.6||3.6||7.5||16.4|
|All items less food, energy||0.1||0.1||0.2||0.1||0.1||0.1||0.2||1.7|
|Commodities less food, energy||-0.1||-0.1||.0||.0||-0.1||-0.1||.0||-0.3|
|Used cars and trucks||0.3||0.4||0.3||.0||-0.5||-0.1||0.4||0.1|
|Services less energy||0.2||0.2||0.3||0.1||0.2||0.2||0.3||2.3|
Here is the summarized report on the Consumer Price Index as published by the Labor Department’s BLS on Tuesday, April 15, 2014:
Summary of Consumer Prices for March 2014
The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.2% in March on a seasonally adjusted basis, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, the all items index increased 1.5% before seasonal adjustment.
Increases in the shelter and food indexes accounted for most of the seasonally adjusted all items increase. The food index increased 0.4% in March, with several major grocery store food groups increasing notably. The energy index, in contrast, declined slightly in March as decreases in the gasoline and fuel oil indexes more than offset increases in the indexes for electricity and natural gas.
The index for all items less food and energy also rose 0.2% in March. Besides the 0.3% increase in the shelter index, the indexes for medical care, for apparel, for used cars and trucks, and for airline fares also increased. The indexes for household furnishings and operations and for recreation both declined in March.
The all items index increased 1.5% over the last 12 months; this compares to a 1.1% increase for the 12 months ending February. The index for all items less food and energy has increased 1.7% over the last 12 months, as has the food index. The energy index has risen slightly over the span, advancing 0.4%.
The food index rose 0.4% in March, the same increase as in February. Four of the six major grocery store food groups increased in March, three of them sharply. The index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs posted the largest increase, rising 1.2%, the same increase as in February. The index for dairy and related products rose 1.0% in March, its fifth consecutive increase.
The index for fruits and vegetables, which rose 1.1% in February, rose 0.9% in March. The index for fresh fruits rose 3.1%, while the index for fresh vegetables declined 1.6%. The index for cereals and bakery products rose 0.2% in March, while the indexes for nonalcoholic beverages and for other food at home both declined.
The food at home index has risen 1.4% over the last year, its largest 12-month increase since August 2012. The index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs increased the most over the span, rising 5.1%, while the index for nonalcoholic beverages was the only one to decline, falling 1.8%. The index for food away from home rose 0.3% in March, the same increase as in February, and has increased 2.3% over the last 12 months.
The energy index fell 0.1% in March after a 0.5% decline in February. The gasoline index declined 1.7% in March, the same decline as in February. (Before seasonal adjustment, gasoline prices rose 5.1% in March). The fuel oil index also declined, falling 2.9% after rising 4.1% the previous month.
In contrast, the index for natural gas rose sharply, increasing 7.5%, its largest one-month increase since October 2005. It has increased 15.3% over the last three months. The electricity index also increased, rising 1.1%. Over the last 12 months, the energy index has increased 0.4%, with the natural gas index rising 16.4%, the electricity index increasing 5.3%, and the fuel oil index advancing 2.1%. These increases more than offset a 4.7% decline in the gasoline index.
All items less food and energy
The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.2% in March. Almost two-thirds of this increase was accounted for by the shelter index, which rose 0.3%. The indexes for rent and owners’ equivalent rent both rose 0.3%, while the index for lodging away from home rose 1.5%.
The medical care index rose 0.2% in March. Among medical care components, the hospital services index increased 0.8%, but the index for prescription drugs fell 0.2%. The apparel index, which fell 0.3% in February, increased 0.3% in March. The index for used cars and trucks rose 0.4%, while the index for airline fares advanced 0.5%. The indexes for alcoholic beverages, for tobacco, and for personal care also rose in March. The index for new vehicles was unchanged in March. The recreation index declined in March, falling 0.1%, as did the index for household furnishings and operations.
The index for all items less food and energy has risen 1.7% over the last 12 months. The shelter index has risen 2.7% over the last 12 months; this is the largest 12-month increase since the period ending March 2008. Several components have increased only slightly over the last year, including apparel (0.5%), recreation (0.3%), new vehicles (0.2%), and used cars and trucks (0.1%).
Not seasonally adjusted CPI measures
The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 1.5% over the last 12 months to an index level of 236.293 (1982-84=100). For the month, the index rose 0.6% prior to seasonal adjustment.
The Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) increased 1.4% over the last 12 months to an index level of 232.560 (1982-84=100). For the month, the index rose 0.7% prior to seasonal adjustment.
The Chained Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (C-CPI-U) increased 1.4% over the last 12 months. For the month, the index rose 0.6% on a not seasonally adjusted basis. Please note that the indexes for the post-2012 period are subject to revision.
Next CPI Release
The Consumer Price Index for April 2014 is scheduled to be released on Thursday, May 15, 2014, at 8:30 a.m. (EDT). View upcoming release dates.