Consumer prices, measured by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Consumer Price Index – All Urban Consumer (CPI), rose by 0.2 percent in February after the CPI posted its biggest gain in four years of 0.5 percent in January. Energy price growth slowed over the month to 0.1 percent, from 3.0 percent in January. Meanwhile, core inflation, which excludes the more volatile energy and food prices, increased 0.2 percent in February following a 0.3 percent increase in January.
On a year-over-year basis, the CPI rose 2.2 percent, a slightly larger increase than the 2.1-percent rise for the 12 months ending in January. Energy prices contributed to the increase in the headline measure of consumer inflation, climbing 7.7 percent over the year. Shelter prices increased by 3.1 percent over the year, faster than overall inflation. Core inflation rose by 1.8 percent over the year. February marks the 10th consecutive month in which core inflation has risen by either 1.7 percent or 1.8 percent on a 12-month basis.
From a housing perspective, rental prices, a component of the Shelter Price Index, rose by 0.2 percent in February, a slight slowdown from the increase of 0.3 percent in January. Year-over-year, nominal rental prices, rose 3.6 percent in February, a slight decrease from the price increase in January of 3.7 percent. Over the past 12 months, real rental prices, rental prices adjusted for core-CPI rose by 1.7 percent but compared to January, it was a slight decrease from 1.9 percent. The month of February marks the 79th consecutive month in which rental price growth over the past year has exceeded core inflation. Real rental price growth remains near historically high levels, but the pace of growth has shown signs of a sustained deceleration.
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