Consumer prices climbed 0.1 percent in May 2013, reversing direction from two consecutive monthly declines of 0.4 percent in April and 0.2 percent in March.
Despite the increase, most media sources are describing inflation as subdued and below economists’ expectations of an often cited 0.2 percent area.
"We don’t really have an inflation issue in this country," said Omair Sharif, an economist at RBS Securities Inc. in Stamford, Connecticut. "Some Fed officials have expressed concern about inflation, but I think the Fed is cognizant of the fact that we’re probably at the low readings on inflation."
Keeping inflation in check for May was lower costs in food and flat gasoline prices. The main food index fell 0.1 percent after rising 0.2 percent in the previous month. The main energy index did ease higher by 0.4 percent compared a drop of 4.3 percent in April. Gasoline, a sub-category of the main energy index was flat, as mentioned, after falling 8.1 percent in the prior month. The main energy index climbed mainly as a result of higher electricity prices, up 0.8 percent, and higher natural gas prices, up 2.4 percent.
Stripping out food and energy prices, core consumer prices rose 0.2 percent in May compared to the 0.1 percent increase in April.
Annual US inflation increase to 1.4 percent versus the prior 12-month ending reading in April of 1.1 percent. (See a breakdown of recent inflation rates in the US by month and year.)
Core US inflation over the past year gained 1.7 percent for a second straight month.
As always here on USInflation.org, here is a snapshot of the recent consumer prices on average since November:
US Inflation: November 2012 – May 2013 Consumer Prices
|Nov 2012||Dec 2012||Jan 2013||Feb 2013||Mar 2013||Apr 2013||May 2013||12
|Food at home||0.3||0.2||.0||0.1||-0.1||0.1||-0.3||0.8|
|Food away from home||0.1||0.1||0.1||0.1||0.2||0.3||0.2||2.3|
|Gasoline (all types)||-6.0||-1.9||-3.0||9.1||-4.4||-8.1||.0||-4.1|
|Utility (piped) gas service||1.5||0.7||-1.7||1.2||1.0||4.4||2.4||14.2|
|All items less food, energy||0.1||0.1||0.3||0.2||0.1||0.1||0.2||1.7|
|Comm. less food, energy||-0.1||-0.1||0.2||.0||-0.1||.0||.0||-0.2|
|Used cars and trucks||-0.4||-0.3||0.2||0.8||1.2||0.6||-0.1||-1.6|
|Services less energy||0.2||0.2||0.3||0.2||0.2||0.1||0.2||2.3|
The following is the Consumer Price Index summary released earlier today, June 18, 2013, by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):
The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.1 percent in May on a seasonally adjusted basis, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, the all items index increased 1.4 percent before seasonal adjustment.
The shelter index rose 0.3 percent and accounted for more than half of the seasonally adjusted all items increase in May. The energy index rose modestly, with the gasoline index flat but increases in the electricity and natural gas indexes accounting for the rise. The food index, however, turned down in May, with the food at home index falling 0.3 percent.
The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.2 percent in May. Besides the shelter increase, advances in the indexes for airline fares, recreation, and apparel also contributed to the rise. In contrast, the indexes for medical care and used cars and trucks declined in May.
The all items index increased 1.4 percent over the last 12 months, an increase from last month’s 1.1 percent figure. The 12-month change in the index for all items less food and energy remained at 1.7 percent. The food index has risen modestly over the last 12 months, advancing 1.4 percent, while the index for energy has declined, falling 1.0 percent.
The food index fell 0.1 percent in May after rising 0.2 percent in April. The index for food at home fell 0.3 percent, its largest decline since July 2009. Four of the six major grocery store food group indexes posted declines, led by nonalcoholic beverages, which fell 1.1 percent. The index for dairy and related products decreased 0.8 percent, its third decline in the last four months. The indexes for cereals and bakery products and other food at home both turned down in May, falling 0.4 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively. The index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs, which increased in April, was unchanged in May. The only grocery store food group index to rise was fruits and vegetables, which increased 0.4 percent in May after a 1.4 percent decline in April. The food at home index has increased 0.8 percent over the past year; the fruits and vegetables index has risen the most of the six groups over that span, increasing 2.1 percent. The index for food away from home rose 0.2 percent in May and has risen 2.3 percent over the past year.
The energy index rose in May, increasing 0.4 percent after substantial declines in March and April. The gasoline index, which declined sharply the previous two months, was unchanged in May. (Before seasonal adjustment, gasoline prices rose 0.8 percent in May.) The fuel oil index continued to fall; its 2.9 percent decrease in May was its third consecutive decline. However, other energy indexes rose. The electricity index, which increased 0.5 percent in April, rose 0.8 percent in May. The natural gas index rose 2.4 percent, its fourth consecutive increase. Over the last 12 months energy indexes are mixed, with the index for fuel oil falling 5.8 percent and the gasoline index down 4.1 percent, but the natural gas index rising 14.2 percent and the electricity index up 1.7 percent.
All items less food and energy
The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.2 percent in May after rising 0.1 percent in both March and April. The shelter index rose 0.3 percent in May, its largest increase since July 2011. The index for rent rose 0.3 percent and the index for owners’ equivalent rent increased 0.2 percent. The index for lodging away from home rose 1.2 percent in May, its fifth consecutive increase. Besides shelter, several other indexes also increased in May. The index for airline fares rose 2.2 percent after declining in April. The indexes for apparel and recreation both rose 0.2 percent after declining in recent months. In contrast to these increases, the index for medical care declined in May, falling 0.1 percent. The index for medical care services was unchanged while the index for medical care commodities fell 0.5 percent, with the index for prescription drugs decreasing 0.6 percent. The index for used cars and trucks also declined, falling 0.1 percent after increasing in each of the first four months of the year. Several indexes were unchanged in May, including new vehicles, tobacco, and household furnishings and operations.
The index for all items less food and energy increased 1.7 percent for the 12 months ending May. The index for shelter has risen 2.3 percent over the last 12 months. The medical care index has risen 2.2 percent, its smallest 12-month increase since September 1972. The index for medical care services has increased 2.9 percent over the last year, while the index for medical care commodities was unchanged, with the prescription drug index down 0.1 percent over the span.
Not seasonally adjusted CPI measures
The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 1.4 percent over the last 12 months to an index level of 232.945 (1982-84=100). For the month, the index increased 0.2 percent prior to seasonal adjustment.
The Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) increased 1.2 percent over the last 12 months to an index level of 229.399 (1982-84=100). For the month, the index increased 0.2 percent prior to seasonal adjustment.
The Chained Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (C-CPI-U) increased 1.3 percent over the last 12 months. For the month, the index increased 0.2 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 June 2013 is scheduled to be released on Tuesday, July 16, 2013, at 8:30 a.m. (EDT).