Thursday, June 11, 2020

For the first time ever, the Core CPI falls for three straight months

See Coronavirus Continues to Weigh on U.S. Consumer Prices: CPI fell 0.1% in May; cost of groceries rose with people staying at home to contain virus by Harriet Torry of The WSJ.

In yesterday's post, I discussed how both supply and demand were decreasing. But with prices still falling, it looks demand is falling a bit more than supply. Since 1957, there have been only twelve months when the Core CPI fell.

"U.S. consumer prices dropped for a third straight month in May as the coronavirus pandemic kept shoppers and travelers at home, but the rate of decline in inflation eased as the cost of groceries, rent and medical services rose.

The consumer-price index, which measures what Americans pay for everything from alcohol to lawn mowers, fell a seasonally adjusted 0.1% in May after comparable declines of 0.8% in April and 0.4% in March, the Labor Department said Wednesday.

Excluding volatile food and energy categories, so-called core prices fell 0.1% compared with a 0.4% decline in April, marking the first time that index has declined in three consecutive months, according to the Labor Department."

"Some categories posted outsize gains. Grocery costs climbed as shoppers prepared more meals at home during the pandemic. The cost of food bought for home consumption climbed 1% in May following April’s increase of 2.6%, which was the largest month-over-month jump in grocery prices since 1974.

A report Wednesday from Mastercard SpendingPulse, which tracks both online and in-store spending with all forms of payment, found retail sales for May were down 5.6% year over year compared with a decline of 14.1% in April, suggesting the pandemic’s hit to consumer spending is beginning to lessen. The tally excludes automobiles."
The following site from the St. Louis Fed. has the annual data for the Core CPI going back to 1957.

Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers: All Items Less Food and Energy in U.S. City Average

This site has historical data on the seasonally adjusted CPI

Seasonally Adjusted Consumer Price Index

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