CPI 0% for April 2012 on Dropping Gas Prices

The April Consumer Price Index, which measures inflation, had no increase or decrease from March. The reason was gasoline prices, which declined -2.6% from last month Below is the graph for CPI's monthly percentage change.



Energy overall decreased -1.7%. The energy index separates out all energy costs and puts them together. Energy is also mixed in with other indexes, such as heating oil for the housing index and gas for the transportation index. The energy index is up 0.9% for the last 12 months.

Gas alone decreased -2.6% for April, but is up 3.2% from this time last year. Fuel oil, not seasonally adjusted, decreased -1.1% for the month. Below is the CPI gas index. If you're wondering why you're not seeing a dramatic decline in gas prices, this index is seasonally adjusted. Not seasonally adjusted gas increased 1.8%. So much for seasonal adjustments!



Below are gas prices, last updated May 14th and bear in mind these CPI percentages are for April.



Electricity increased +0.2% but piped natural gas declined -1.8% for the month. From a year ago, electricity has increased 0.6% and natural gas has dropped -11.6%. Below is the household energy Index.


CPI energy


Below is the overall CPI energy index.



Core inflation, or CPI minus food and energy, increased 0.2% for April. Core inflation has risen 2.3% for the year. Core CPI is one of the Federal Reserve inflation watch numbers.



Core CPI's monthly percentage change is graphed below.


core cpi


Shelter increased 0.2%, the 7th month in a row. Rent increased 0.2%, home owner's equivalent rent increased 0.2%. Used cars & trucks increased 1.5% and is up 3.5% from a year ago. Apparel from a year ago, increased 5.1%, the largest increase since 1991.

Graphed below is the percentage change from a year ago of rent, the largest monthly household expense for people who can least afford increases as those with less money disproportionately rent vs. own. For the year the shelter index has increased 2.2%.


cpi rent


Food and beverages overall increased, 0.2% and has increased 3.1% from a year ago. The food at home index (think groceries), increased 0.2% and is up 3.3% for the year. Fruits & veggies increased a whopping 1.0% in a month.

Eating out, or food away from home increased 0.3% from last month and is up 2.9% from a year ago.



The Medical care index increased 0.3% with the hospital index increasing 0.6%. Medical commodities are things like your prescription drugs and did not change from last month.


CPI Medical


According to the BLS, food and beverages, which includes food at home, makes up 15.1% of the index. Housing is 41.5% and transportation, including gas for the car, is 17.6%. Medical care is only 7%, they claim. All items minus food and energy are considered 75.4% of the total price expenditures for consumers.

The DOL/BLS does take yearly surveys on where the money goes in the monthly budget, but as one can see, food and energy are significant amounts of the monthly finances. Run away costs in these two areas can break the bank, so can food. Additionally CPI uses substitution, so if steak goes through the roof, somehow we're all just fine with hamburger and prices didn't really overall increase much.

CPI-W for the month, unadjusted was 227.012, a 2.4% increase for the year and up 0.3$ for the month. CPI-W is used to calculate government transfer payments, such as social security increases.

Last month's CPI report overview, unrevised, although most graphs are updated, is here.

If you're wondering why the graphs look weird, the graph calculates percentages from the index and doesn't round. The actual data from the BLS report does round to one decimal place. In other words, 0.05% is rounded to 0.1%.

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