U.S. consumer prices up 0.1 percent in February on higher food costs

Nathan Andrada – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Washington, DC, United States (4E) – The consumer price index (CPI) jumped by a seasonally adjusted 0.1 percent in February, according to a Labor Department report released Tuesday.

Food prices inched up 0.4 percent, the biggest increase since September 2011, due to rising costs of poultry, meat, fish and vegetables. Over the past year, prices of food rose just 1.4 percent.

Energy cost dropped 0.5 percent as cheaper gasoline costs offset more expensive fuel oil and natural gas. Demand for home heating fuels increased, boosting prices during a very cold month.

The so-called core consumer prices, which exclude food and energy, also climbed 0.1 percent in February. Cost of housing, which accounts for the biggest expense for consumers, gained 0.2 percent. Prices for airline tickets and medical care also increased.

The U.S. Federal Reserve considers the core rate as a more useful measure of underlying inflationary trends. Core inflation over the past 12 months has climbed 1.6 percent, well below the Fed’s inflation target.

In the past 12 months, overall consumer prices increased just 1.1 percent.

Americans’ average hourly pay jumped 0.3 percent last month, marking the biggest rise since last April, adjusted for inflation. Real wages of U.S. workers have climbed 1.1 percent over the past 12 months, higher from 0.4 percent in January.

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