Consumer Prices Index falls to 1.1% Yearly Growth

BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Dept. of Labor) released the September 2010 Consumer Price Index showing slowing inflation growth of 1.1% YoY.  This is a data release that few agree with as it has historically understated price increases that Joe Sixpack saw in his daily purchases.  The headlines from the release:

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.1 percent in September on a seasonally adjusted basis, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, the all items index increased 1.1 percent before seasonal adjustment.

Increases in food indexes and another rise in the gasoline index contributed to the all items seasonally adjusted increase this month. Four of the six major grocery store food group indexes increased in September as the food index posted its largest increase since October 2008. The gasoline index rose again in September, leading to a third consecutive increase in the energy index despite a decline in the index for household energy.

The index for all items less food and energy was unchanged in September, as it was in August. The shelter index was unchanged for the second month in a row. The indexes for apparel, household furnishing and operations, recreation, and used cars and trucks all declined in September, offsetting a sharp increase in the index for medical care and a slight increase in the index for new vehicles.

Over the last 12 months, the index for all items less food and energy rose 0.8 percent, the lowest 12 month increase since March 1961, with the shelter component down 0.4 percent. The food index rose 1.4 percent, with both the food at home index and food away from home index rising the same 1.4 percent. The energy index rose 3.8 percent over the last year, with gasoline up 5.1 percent.

 Click on graphs for larger images.

This index is actually multiple indexes, but the headline is based on the CPI-U which is a hypothetical urban dweller who rents his house.  The big gainers this month are energy and food.  YoY, the largest gainers are fuel oil and used cars.

With the weakening of the dollar, it will be interesting to watch the movements in the CPI in the last few months of this year.  Economists generally associate low inflation with slow growth but, if the dollar continues to weaken, upward pressure on CPI is implied.  Thus a small CPI number could occur without any growth.

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