CPI for all Items Rises 0.6% in March as Gasoline Index Continues to Rise

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.6% in March on a seasonally adjusted basis after rising 0.4% in February, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The March 1-month increase was the largest rise since a 0.6% increase in August 2012. Over the last 12 months, the all items index increased 2.6% before seasonal adjustment.

The gasoline index continued to increase, rising 9.1% in March and accounting for nearly half of the seasonally adjusted increase in the all items index. The natural gas index also rose, contributing to a 5.0% increase in the energy index over the month. The food index rose 0.1% in March, with the food at home index and the food away from home index both also rising 0.1%.

The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.3% in March. The shelter index increased in March as did the motor vehicle insurance index, the recreation index, and the household furnishings and operations index. Indexes which decreased over the month include apparel and education.

The all items index rose 2.6% for the 12 months ending March, a much larger increase than the 1.7% reported for the period ending in February. The index for all items less food and energy rose 1.6% over the last 12 months, after increasing 1.3% over the 12 month period ending in February. The food index rose 3.5% over the last 12 months, while the energy index increased 13.2% over that period.

Food

The food index increased 0.1% in March. The index for food at home also rose 0.1% over the month as two of the six major grocery store food group indexes increased. The index for fruits and vegetables rose 1.0% in March, following a 0.7% increase in February. The index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs rose 0.1% in March, a smaller increase than the 0.3% increase in February. The index for other food at home was unchanged over the month.

The index for dairy and related products declined 0.5% in March, the third consecutive monthly decrease in that index. The index for nonalcoholic beverages decreased 0.2% over the month, while the index for cereals and bakery products declined 0.1%. The food away from home index rose 0.1 percent in March, continuing a long series of increases. The index for limited service meals rose 0.5%, while the index for full service meals increased 0.2%.

The food at home index increased 3.3% over the past 12 months. All six major grocery store food group indexes increased over the period, with increases ranging from 1.6% (dairy and related products) to 5.4% (meats, poultry, fish, and eggs). The index for food away from home rose 3.7% over the last year. The index for limited service meals rose 6.5%, the largest 12-month increase in the history of the index, which began in 1997. The index for full service meals rose 3.2% over the last 12 months.

Energy

The energy index continued to rise in March, increasing 5.0%. The index for gasoline was again the dominant factor in the increase, rising 9.1% over the month. (Before seasonal adjustment, gasoline prices rose 11.7% in March.) The natural gas index increased 2.5% over the month, and the electricity index was unchanged in March.

The energy index rose 13.2% over the past 12 months. The gasoline index rose 22.5% over the last 12 months, while the index for natural gas increased 9.8%, and the index for electricity rose 2.5% over the same period. The fuel oil index increased 20.2% over the last 12 months.

All Items Less Food and Energy

The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.3 percent in March. The shelter index also rose 0.3% in March, with the index for owners’ equivalent rent and the index for rent both increasing 0.2%. The motor vehicle insurance index increased for the third consecutive month, rising 3.3 percent in March. The index for recreation increased 0.4% over the month, as did the index for household furnishings and operations. The used cars and trucks index also increased in March, rising 0.5%, and the index for personal care increased 0.6% in March.

The medical care index rose 0.1% in March, after rising 0.3% in February. The hospital services index increased 0.6% over the month, while the physicians’ services index rose 0.3% in March. The index for prescription drugs was unchanged over the month.

The index for apparel fell 0.3% in March, following a 0.7% decline the previous month. The education index also declined over the month, falling 0.2%. The index for communication and the index for new vehicles were both unchanged in March.

The index for all items less food and energy rose 1.6% over the past 12 months. Among the indexes rising more quickly were those for shelter (+1.7%), used cars and trucks (+9.4%), and medical care (+1.8%). Indexes that declined over the last 12 months include lodging away from home (-6.4%), airline fares (-15.1%), and apparel (-2.5%).

Not seasonally adjusted CPI measures

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 2.6% over the last 12 months to an index level of 264.877 (1982-84=100). For the month, the index increased 0.7% prior to seasonal adjustment.

The Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) increased 3.0% over the last 12 months to an index level of 258.935 (1982-84=100). For the month, the index rose 0.8% prior to seasonal adjustment.

The Chained Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (C-CPI-U) increased 2.5% over the last 12 months. For the month, the index increased 0.7% on a not seasonally adjusted basis. Please note that the indexes for the past 10 to 12 months are subject to revision.