Consumer Prices Up 4%, Core Inflation Still Running Hot

(iStock, Susan Walsh/Getty Images; BNN)
iStock, Susan Walsh/Getty Images; BNN

The consumer price index, a key barometer of what consumers pay for goods and services, rose four percent last month from a year earlier, the Labor Department said Tuesday.

Compared with March, the consumer price index (CPI) rose 0.1 percent.

Core CPI, which excludes food and energy prices, was up 5.3 percent on a 12-month basis. Compared with a month earlier, core prices were up 0.4 percent.

The figures were largely in line with expectations. Economists had forecast 4.1 percent for headline inflation and 5.3 percent for core.

For the year, both core and headline inflation were down from a month earlier. In April, the CPI was up 4.9 percent on a 12-month basis and core CPI was up 5.5 percent. On a month-to-month basis, CPI’s gain is down from 0.4 percent in April. Core inflation’s monthly rate, however, is unchanged from April’s 0.4 percent.

As the chart below shows, core inflation has been at or near 0.4 percent since December, indicating the Fed is making very little progress at bringing inflation down. Unrounded, inflation has ticked up in the last two months.

Inflation has slowed since hitting 8.9 percent in June of 2022 but remains well above the Fed’s goal of two percent. The Fed uses a different measure of inflation—the personal consumption expenditure price index, which is calculated by the Commerce Department—for its target. In April, the latest data available, this index rose to 4.4 percent from 4.2 percent in March.

Progress in taming inflation has been slower than many Fed officials and economists expected. The most recent set of projections from Fed officials, released in March, indicated that they expect PCE inflation will fall to 3.5 percent by the end of the year. This is expected to rise when the Fed issues a new summary of projections on Wednesday.


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