March 2013 US Inflation

Consumer prices declined 0.2 percent in March 2013, more than most analysts expected and following the higher-than-expected 0.7 percent increase in February 2013 — the largest since June 2009.

Credited in pulling costs down for Americans were lower energy prices. Specially and notably, gas prices fell 4.4 percent after soaring 9.1 percent in the previous month. The food prices index was unchanged in March, also helping a tad as consumers paid 0.1 percent more in February. Core consumer prices, which strip out volatile energy and food costs, rose 0.1 percent in March versus the prior 0.2 percent advance.

US inflation during the past 12 months grew 1.5 percent, down from the 2 percent increase over the 12-month period ending in February. The latest US Inflation rate is the slowest since the 12 months ending in July. (Check out other recent US inflation rates.) Finally, the core US inflation rate over the past 12 months advanced to 1.9 percent from the prior 2 percent increase.

Here is a snapshot of the recent pricing changes Americans have seen since September:

US Inflation: September 2012 – March 2013 Consumer Prices

  Sept 2012 Oct 2012 Nov 2012 Dec 2012 Jan 2013 Feb 2013 Mar 2013 12
Month
All items 0.5 0.2 -0.2 .0 .0 0.7 -0.2 1.5
  Food 0.1 0.2 0.2 0.2 .0 0.1 .0 1.5
    Food at home -0.1 0.3 0.3 0.2 .0 0.1 -0.1 1.0
    Food away from home 0.2 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.2 2.3
  Energy 3.9 0.1 -3.4 -0.8 -1.7 5.4 -2.6 -1.6
    Energy commodities 6.1 0.1 -5.7 -1.5 -3.0 8.6 -4.1 -3.1
      Gasoline (all types) 6.3 -0.1 -6.0 -1.9 -3.0 9.1 -4.4 -3.1
      Fuel oil 4.1 1.1 -0.2 .0 -0.2 3.1 -2.1 -2.4
    Energy services 0.4 .2 0.6 0.3 0.4 0.5 -0.2 1.1
      Electricity 0.1 0.3 0.4 0.2 1.1 0.3 -0.6 0.9
      Utility (piped) gas service 1.2 -0.2 1.5 0.7 -1.7 1.2 1.0 1.8
  All items less food, energy 0.2 0.2 0.1 0.1 0.3 0.2 0.1 1.9
    Comm. less food, energy -0.1 .0 -0.1 -0.1 0.2 .0 -0.1 .0
      New vehicles .0 0.1 0.3 0.2 0.1 -0.3 0.1 1.1
      Used cars and trucks -1.4 -0.7 -0.4 -0.3 0.2 0.8 1.2 0.1
      Apparel 0.5 0.6 -0.5 0.1 0.8 -0.1 -1.0 0.8
      Medical care -0.1 0.1 -0.3 -0.3 0.1 -0.4 0.1 0.6
    Services less energy 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.3 0.2 0.2 2.5
      Shelter 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.1 0.2 0.2 0.2 2.2
      Transportation 0.5 0.6 0.2 0.4 0.5 0.1 0.2 3.1
      Medical care 0.3 0.1 0.3 0.3 0.2 0.3 0.3 3.9

 

The following is the Consumer Price Index summary released today, April 16, 2013, by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) decreased 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.

The all items seasonally adjusted decrease was primarily due to a 4.4% decline in the gasoline index. The indexes for electricity and fuel oil declined as well, as the energy index fell 2.6% in March after a 5.4% increase in February. The food index was unchanged in March, with the index for food at home declining slightly.

The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.1% in March, after a 0.2% increase in February. The indexes for shelter, used cars and trucks, medical care, personal care, and airline fares all rose in March. These increases more than offset declines in the indexes for apparel, household furnishings and operations, and tobacco.

The all items index increased 1.5% over the last 12 months; this compares to 2.0% last month and is the smallest increase since the 12 months ending July 2012. The index for all items less food and energy increased 1.9% over the last 12 months. The food index rose 1.5% while the energy index declined 1.6%.

Food Inflation

The food index was unchanged in March as a 0.2% increase in the index for food away from home offset a 0.1% decline in the food at home index. Within food at home, three of the six major grocery store food group indexes declined. The dairy group posted the largest decrease, falling 0.6% after a 0.4% decline in February. The fruits and vegetables index fell 0.4% in March after rising in February, and the index for nonalcoholic beverages declined 0.2%. The index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs was unchanged in March after rising 0.5% the previous month. The indexes for cereals and bakery products and for other food at home both increased 0.2% in March. Over the last 12 months, the food at home index has risen 1.0%. The fruits and vegetables index rose 4.4% over that span, the largest increase among the food groups, while the indexes for dairy and related products and for nonalcoholic beverages both declined. The index for food away from home has risen 2.3% over the past year.

Energy Inflation

The energy index turned down in March, falling 2.6% after a sharp February increase. The gasoline index, which rose 9.1% in February, fell 4.4% in March. (Before seasonal adjustment, gasoline prices increased 1.4% in March.) The index for fuel oil also turned down, falling 2.1% in March after rising 3.1% in February. The electricity index fell 0.6% after a 0.3% February increase. In contrast to these declines, the index for natural gas increased 1.0%, its fourth increase in the last five months. Over the past 12 months, the indexes for gasoline and fuel oil have declined; gasoline by 3.1% and fuel oil by 2.4%. The indexes for natural gas and electricity have risen; natural gas by 1.8% and electricity by 0.9%.

All items less food and energy

The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.1% in March following increases of 0.3% in January and 0.2% in February. The shelter index increased 0.2% for the third month in a row. The rent index rose 0.2% while the index for owners’ equivalent rent advanced 0.1%. The index for used cars and trucks rose 1.2% in March following a 0.8% increase in February. The index for medical care rose 0.3% in March, its largest increase since July 2012. The index for airline fares turned up in March, rising 0.6% after declining 0.3% in February. The personal care index also rose in March, increasing 0.2%, while the index for new vehicles increased 0.1%. Several indexes declined in March, most notably apparel, which fell 1.0%, its largest decline since April 2001. The index for household furnishings and operations fell 0.3%, its third decline in four months, while the tobacco index decreased 0.2%. The recreation index, which increased in January and February, declined 0.1% in March.

The index for all items less food and energy increased 1.9% for the 12 months ending March. Component indexes rising more quickly than this include airline fare (3.8%), medical care (3.1%), and shelter (2.2%). Among those indexes rising more slowly are new vehicles (1.1%), apparel (0.8%), and used cars and trucks (0.1%). The index for household furnishings and operations declined 0.6% over the span.

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 232.773 (1982-84=100). For the month, the index increased 0.3% prior to seasonal adjustment. The Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) increased 1.3% over the last 12 months to an index level of 229.323 (1982-84=100). For the month, the index increased 0.3% 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 increased 0.2% 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 April 2013 is scheduled to be released on Thursday, May 16, 2013, at 8:30 a.m. (EDT).

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