The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the consumer price index (CPI) was unchanged in November. This follows a decline of 0.1 percent in October.
In November, energy costs fell 1.6 percent on lower gasoline and natural gas costs. Still, even with the declines, energy costs were up 12.4 percent year-over-year.
Food costs rose 0.1 percent for the month, with the price of grocery items for the home down 0.1 percent while restaurant purchases rose 0.3 percent. The steepest price declines for food came from sugar and sweets (down 1.7 percent) and fruits and vegetables (down 0.6 percent); whereas, fats and oils rose 0.8 percent, making it the fastest gainer. (Fats and oils were also up the most year-over-year, at 11.1 percent.)
Core inflation, which excludes food and energy costs, increased 0.2 percent in November. The core CPI for goods rose 0.1 percent, with core service prices up 0.2 percent. Annual inflation is currently running at 3.4 percent, but core inflation now stands at 2.2 percent. This has edged higher with each passing month this year, but still remains modest.
Outside of food and energy, the largest monthly price increases were seen in apparel, medical care, personal care products, and personal computers and peripherals. New and used motor vehicle prices dropped 0.3 percent.
Overall, these numbers suggest that pricing pressures remain modest, at least for now, even as core inflation has exceeded the 2 percent goal of many economists.
Chad Moutray is chief economist, National Association of Manufacturers.
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