Consumer Prices Continue to Rise Unless You Aren’t Eating Food or Using Energy

The Consumer Price Index increased 0.4 percent in April on a seasonally adjusted basis, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, the all items index increased 3.2 percent before seasonal adjustment.

The energy (NYSE:XLE) index posted another increase in April as the gasoline index continued to rise, the latter accounting for almost half of the seasonally adjusted all items increase. The household energy index also rose, with all of its major components posting increases. The food (NYSE:RJA) index increased as well in April, though the 0.5 percent rise in the food at home index was the smallest increase this year. Within the food at home component, the indexes for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs, for dairy and related products, and for nonalcoholic beverages all posted notable increases, though the fresh vegetables index did decline following recent advances.

The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.2 percent in April, the third increase of that size in the last four months. Indexes making major contributions to that increase included those for new vehicles, used cars and trucks, medical care, and shelter.

The 12-month increases of major indexes continue to climb. The all items index rose 3.2 percent for the 12 months ending April 2011, the highest figure since October 2008. The energy index has now risen 19.0 percent over the last 12 months, with the gasoline index up 33.1 percent. The food index has risen 3.2 percent while the index for all items less food and energy has increased 1.3 percent; both figures represent increases over recent months.

Food Index Continues to Rise

The food index rose 0.4 percent in April after rising 0.8 percent in March. The food at home index, up 1.1 percent in March, rose 0.5 percent in April. The deceleration was mainly due to the fresh vegetables index, which turned down in April, falling 2.7 percent after posting large increases in each of the previous two months. This led to the fruits and vegetables index declining 1.1 percent, the only major grocery store food group to decline in April. In contrast to this decline, the index for dairy and related products rose 1.7 percent, the index for nonalcoholic beverages advanced 1.2 percent, and the index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs increased 1.1 percent. The indexes for cereals and bakery products and for other food at home posted smaller increases. The food at home index has risen 3.9 percent over the last 12 months, with all major grocery store food groups increasing over the period. The index for food away from home rose 0.3 percent in April, the same increase as in March.

Energy Index Rose the Most

The energy index rose 2.2 percent in April. This is the tenth increase in a row and follows advances of 3.5 percent in March and
3.4 percent in February. The gasoline index rose 3.3 percent in April after a 5.6 percent increase in March. (Before seasonal adjustment, gasoline prices rose 7.5 percent in April.) The index for household energy also increased in April, rising 0.7 percent. The fuel oil index rose 3.2 percent, continuing a strong upward trend, while the index for electricity increased 0.2 percent. The index for natural gas (NYSE:UNG), which declined in March, rose 1.9 percent in April. The household energy index has risen 1.9 percent over the last 12 months, with the fuel oil index up 35.1 percent and the electricity index up 0.6 percent but the index for natural gas down 1.5 percent.

Core CPI: All Items Less Food and Energy

The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.2 percent in April after increasing 0.1 percent in March. The shelter (NYSE:IYR) index, and its rent and owners’ equivalent rent components, all repeated their March increases of 0.1 percent. The new vehicles index rose 0.7 percent, also a repeat of its March increase, while the index for used cars and trucks advanced 1.2 percent in April after a 0.8 percent increase in March. The index for medical care (NYSE:XLV), which rose 0.2 percent in March, advanced 0.4 percent in April. The index for medical care commodities increased 0.5 percent while the medical care services index rose 0.3 percent. The indexes for apparel and for household furnishings and operations both turned up in April, each rising 0.2 percent after declining in March. The index for recreation was unchanged in April, as it was in March. The tobacco index declined in April, falling 0.4 percent, its largest decline since 2007.

The index for all items less food and energy increased 1.3 percent over the last 12 months. Indexes that have increased over that time include airline fares (up 12.1 percent), medical care (up 2.9 percent), new vehicles (up 2.4 percent), and shelter (up 1.0 percent). Indexes that have declined included household furnishings and operations (down 0.9 percent) and recreation (down 0.4 percent).

Not Seasonally Adjusted CPI Measures

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 3.2 percent over the last 12 months to an index level of 224.906 (1982-84=100). For the month, the index increased 0.6 percent prior to seasonal adjustment.

The Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) increased 3.6 percent over the last 12 months to an index level of 221.743 (1982-84=100). For the month, the index rose 0.8 percent prior to seasonal adjustment.

The Chained Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (C-CPI-U) increased 2.9 percent over the last 12 months. For the month, the index increased 0.6 percent on a not seasonally adjusted basis. Please note that the indexes for the post-2009 period are subject to revision.