US consumer prices bounced higher in December than in any month since June. The cost of gasoline was the major contributor to increases in both months.
December pricing changes, which were released by the US Labor Department on Thursday, June 16, 2013, also presented the final US inflation picture for calendar year 2013.
According to the Labor Department, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased by 0.3% in December after overall prices were unchanged in November and decreased by 0.1% in October.
Gasoline prices jumped 3.4% for the month after dropping 1.6% in previous month. The surge was greatly behind the inflation spike last month. Food prices were higher by 0.1%, the same increase as the prior two months. Excluding these two categories, the core inflation rate for December rose a much more modest 0.1% versus the 0.2% increase in November.
United States Inflation in 2013
Over the longer period from December 2012 to December 2013, the US inflation rate rose 1.5%. That increase compares to the 1.2% advance in the 12 months ended November. Inflation in 2012, as another comparison, rose 1.7%. Noted specifically by the Labor Department, it is the first time that inflation has been under 2% for consecutive years since 1997-98.
Wrapping everything up, core annual inflation in 2013 rose 1.7%, which is the same 12-month increase noted in each of the prior three CPI reports. The total in 2012 was 1.9%.
"In short, the strength in the headline number reflected gasoline prices, which are on track to decline after seasonal adjustment in the next report," Jim O’Sullivan, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, said in a note to clients that was reported on WSJ.com. "The trend at the core level remains tame."
Here is a table of major consumer prices by category and their month-over-month changes. The prices for these items are collected and published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) each month:
US Inflation: June 2013 – December 2013 Consumer Prices
|June 2013||Jul 2013||Aug 2013||Sept 2013||Oct 2013||Nov 2013||Dec 2013||12 Month|
|Food at home||0.2||0.1||0.1||.0||0.1||.0||.0||0.4|
|Food away from home||0.2||0.2||0.2||0.1||0.1||0.3||0.1||2.1|
|Gasoline (all types)||6.3||1.0||-0.1||0.8||-2.9||-1.6||3.1||-1.0|
|Utility (piped) gas service||-0.4||-2.8||-2.3||1.8||-1.0||-1.8||-0.4||-0.1|
|All items less food, energy||0.2||0.2||0.1||0.1||0.1||0.2||0.1||1.7|
|Commodities less food, energy||0.2||.0||.0||-0.1||-0.1||-0.1||.0||-0.1|
|Used cars and trucks||-0.4||-0.4||-0.1||.0||0.3||0.1||-0.2||2.0|
|Services less energy||0.2||0.2||0.2||0.2||0.2||0.3||0.1||2.3|
And once again, here is the latest Consumer Price Index summary that the BLS released early Thursday, January 16, 2014.
The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.3% in December 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.
Advances in energy and shelter indexes were major factors in the increase in the seasonally adjusted all items index. The gasoline index rose 3.1%, and the fuel oil and electricity indexes also increased, resulting in a 2.1% increase in the energy index. The shelter index rose 0.2% in December. The indexes for apparel, tobacco, and personal care increased as well.
These increases more than offset declines in the indexes for airline fares, for recreation, for household furnishings and operations, and for used cars and trucks, resulting in the index for all items less food and energy rising 0.1%. The food index rose slightly in December, increasing 0.1%. The food at home index was unchanged for the third time in four months, as a sharp decline in the fruits and vegetables index offset other increases. The food index has not posted a monthly increase larger than 0.1% since June.
The all items index increased 1.5% over the last 12 months; this is an increase over the October and November 12-month changes of 1.0% and 1.2%, respectively. The index for all items less food and energy has risen 1.7% over the last 12 months, the same figure as for the 12-month changes ending September, October, and November.
The food index rose 0.1% in December, the same increase as in November. The index for food at home was unchanged, although four of the six major grocery store food groups posted increases. The index for nonalcoholic beverages, which declined in November, rose 0.5% in December. The index for dairy and related products rose 0.4% for the second month in a row, while the indexes for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs and for other food at home both rose 0.3%.
Offsetting these increases was a sharp decline in the fruits and vegetables index; it fell 1.5% as the fresh vegetables index declined 2.7%. The index for cereals and bakery products also declined, falling 0.1%. The index for food away from home rose 0.1% in December after a 0.3% increase in November.
The energy index rose 2.1% in December after falling in October and November. The energy index has now risen 0.2% over the last six months. The gasoline index, which fell 1.6% in November, rose 3.1% n December. (Before seasonal adjustment, gasoline prices rose 0.7% in December.) The fuel oil index also rose, increasing 2.4% in December. The electricity index rose 0.4%, its fourth consecutive increase. The only major energy component index to decline was the index for natural gas, which fell 0.4%, its third consecutive decrease.
All items less food and energy
The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.1% in December after a 0.2% advance in November. The shelter index rose 0.2% in December after a 0.3% increase in November. The rent index increased 0.3%, while the index for owners’ equivalent rent rose 0.2%. The index for lodging away from home fell 0.3% after rising in November. The apparel index rose 0.9% in December after declining in each of the three previous months. The tobacco index rose 0.6% and the personal care index increased 0.3%. The new vehicles index was unchanged in December, as was the medical care index. The index for medical care services rose 0.3%, but the index for medical care commodities fell 0.8%, as the prescription drugs index declined 0.9%. The airline fares index declined sharply in December, falling 4.7% after increasing in recent months. The indexes for recreation, for household furnishings and operations, and for used cars and trucks also fell in December.
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 233.049 (1982-84=100). For the month, the index was unchanged prior to seasonal adjustment. The Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) increased 1.5% over the last 12 months to an index level of 229.174 (1982-84=100).
For the month, the index was unchanged prior to seasonal adjustment. The Chained Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (C-CPI-U) increased 1.3% over the last 12 months. For the month, the index was unchanged 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 January 2014 is scheduled to be released on Thursday, February 20, 2014, at 8:30 a.m. (EST).