Consumer Prices Keep Popping Despite Slowing Economy

The Consumer Price Index increased 0.2 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 3.6 percent before seasonal adjustment.

The energy (NYSE:XLE) index posted a significant decrease in March, down 1% after rising quickly in April. The gasoline index dropped by 2%, accounting for almost half of the seasonally adjusted all items decrease. The household energy index rose, with all of its major components posting increases. The food (NYSE:RJA) index increased as well in May, at the same rate as the past month. Within the food at home component, the indexes for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs, for dairy and related products all posted notable increases.

The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.3 percent in May, the fourth increase of that size in the last four months. All items less food and energy increased by 1.5% over the past 12 months, rising at a faster rate over the past six months than it did from May-November of 2010.

Seasonally adjusted changes from

                                          preceding month
                                                                          Un-
                                                                       adjusted
                              Nov.  Dec.  Jan.  Feb.  Mar.  Apr.  May   12-mos.
                              2010  2010  2011  2011  2011  2011  2011   ended
                                                                       May 2011

 All items..................    .1    .4    .4    .5    .5    .4    .2      3.6
  Food......................    .2    .1    .5    .6    .8    .4    .4      3.5
   Food at home.............    .2    .2    .7    .8   1.1    .5    .5      4.4
   Food away from home (1)..    .1    .1    .2    .2    .3    .3    .2      2.2
  Energy....................    .1   4.0   2.1   3.4   3.5   2.2  -1.0     21.5
   Energy commodities.......    .7   6.4   4.0   4.8   5.5   3.1  -1.9     36.2
    Gasoline (all types)....    .7   6.7   3.5   4.7   5.6   3.3  -2.0     36.9
    Fuel oil (1)............   4.2   4.9   6.8   5.8   6.2   3.2   -.8     36.0
   Energy services..........   -.8    .6   -.6   1.1    .2    .6    .6      1.1
    Electricity.............    .6    .3   -.5    .4    .7    .2    .8      1.8
    Utility (piped) gas
       service..............  -5.3   1.7  -1.2   3.4  -1.4   1.9   -.3     -1.2
  All items less food and
     energy.................    .1    .1    .2    .2    .1    .2    .3      1.5
   Commodities less food and
      energy commodities....    .0   -.1    .2    .2    .1    .4    .5      1.2
    New vehicles............   -.2   -.1   -.1   1.0    .7    .7   1.1      3.4
    Used cars and trucks....    .1   -.1   -.3    .1    .8   1.2   1.1      4.1
    Apparel.................    .1    .1   1.0   -.9   -.5    .2   1.2      1.0
    Medical care commodities
       (1)..................    .2    .1    .5    .7    .5    .5    .0      3.0
   Services less energy
      services..............    .2    .1    .1    .2    .2    .1    .2      1.6
    Shelter.................    .1    .1    .1    .1    .1    .1    .2      1.1
    Transportation services     .4    .2    .6    .5    .5    .2    .1      3.3
    Medical care services...    .2    .3   -.1    .4    .1    .3    .3      3.0

Food Index Continues to Rise

The food index rose 0.4 percent in May after rising by the same measure in April. The food at home index was up .5 percent in May. Among major grocery store food groups, the index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs rose 1.5% and the cereals and bakery products index increased 1.0 percent. The food at home index has risen 4.4% over the last 12 months with all major grocery store good groups posting increases. The index for food away from home rose .2% in May after rising .3% in each of the previous two months.

Energy Prices Finally Relent
The energy index fell by 1 percent in May. This breaks a streak of tenth consecutive monthly increases, following an advance of 2.2% last month.The gasoline index declined 2.0 percent in May after having increased 24% percent in the last sixth months. The index for electricity rose by .8%, while the index for natural gas (NYSE:UNG) declined .3 percent in May. 

Core CPI: All Items Less Food and Energy

The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.3 percent in May after increasing 0.2 percent in April. The shelter (NYSE:IYR) index, and its rent and owners’ equivalent rent components, all increased their April increases to 0.2 percent. The new vehicles index rose 1.1 percent, also up from its April increase of .7%, while the index for used cars and trucks advanced 1.1 percent. The index for medical care (NYSE:XLV), which rose 0.4 percent in April, advanced 0.2 percent in May.

Not Seasonally Adjusted CPI Measures

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 3.6 percent over the last 12 months to an index level of 225.964 (1982-84=100). For the month, the index increased 0.5 percent prior to seasonal adjustment.

The Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) increased 4.1 percent over the last 12 months to an index level of 222.954 (1982-84=100). For the month, the index rose 0.5 percent prior to seasonal adjustment.

The Chained Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (C-CPI-U) increased 3.3 percent over the last 12 months. For the month, the index increased 0.4 percent on a not seasonally adjusted basis. Please note that the indexes for the post-2009 period are subject to revision.