CPI for August 2010

The Consumer Price Index for August 2010 increased 0.3% from last month. This is identical to the July 2010 consumer price index increase. Core CPI flatlined to +0.0%. This report is from the BLS website.



The increase was over energy or gas prices, which increased +2.3%. Gas alone increased 3.9% in one month. Heating your home with natural gas increased 1.1% for the month. Food also went up, 0.2% with eating out rising 0.3%. Drinking yourself to oblivion over the economy remains flat, the price didn't go up. Smoking over the economy just increased as well, +0.4% for the month and 7.7% for the year. Spacing out watching videos and listening to music just dropped -0.5% for the month. Escaping elsewhere just dropped, lodging away from home dipped -1.3% in August.

Not seasonally adjusted, CPI has risen 1.1% for the year.

Not seasonally adjusted, fueling up your ride has increased 4.4% for the year (gas prices) and fuel oil, lord help those in the North East on oil to heat their homes, it's up 10.6% for the year. For those speculators, energy commodities are up 5.1% for the year. After your car is repossessed, finding a used one has dramatically increased, up 15.5% for the year, and 0.7% for the month of August in price.

Below is a graph of gas prices, percent change in comparison to one year ago, with data from September 13th, 2010.



Look at the flatness of prices minus food and energy, or core CPI, a total yearly increase of +0.9%, which has been the same for the 5th month in a row. Below is percent change from a year ago in core CPI.



Below are some numbers for the year. Note the shelter index has declined 0.7% for the year. Rent actually dropped -0.1% for the month.

Over the last 12 months, the index for all items less food and energy rose 0.9 percent, though the shelter component posted a 0.7 percent decline. The food index increased at a similar rate, rising 1.0 percent, with grocery store food prices up 0.8 percent. The energy index posted a somewhat larger increase, rising 3.8 percent with gasoline up 4.4 percent.

While housing is heavily weighted (obviously the biggest expense is shelter for most people), look at the two categories of energy vs. housing in the below graph. Housing is not just home prices, it's everything related to sheltering oneself. Shelter by itself flat lined, 0.0% for August 2010. Housing (including energy to heat it, stuff to put in it like a chair, and so on), also did not move in price, 0.0%.



Medical costs increased 0.2% this month. Unadjusted for the year, medical costs have risen +3.4%.

CPI-W increased 0.3% for August and is up 1.4% for the year. This index is used to calculate cost of living adjustments for social security. I haven't calculated it out, but Calculated Risk has and is implying there will not be a cost of living adjustment in social security benefits as a result. I've looked over the numbers and I believe the below conclusion is correct:

For 2011, the calculation is not based on Q3 2010 over Q3 2009, but based on the average CPI-W for Q3 2010 over the highest preceding Q3 average - the 215.495 in Q3 2008. This means CPI-W in Q3 2010 has to average above 215.495 for there to be an increase in Social Security benefits in 2011.

In July 2010, CPI-W was at 213.898, and in August CPI-W was at 214.205 - so CPI-W would have to increase by almost 2% in September for the Q3 average to be at or above the Q3 2008 average. There is no evidence of a huge surge in inflation this month, so there will be no increase in Social Security benefits in 2011.

Even though there was no increase last year, and there will be no increase this year, those receiving benefits are still ahead because of the huge increase in Q3 2008.

Last month's CPI report overview is here.

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