Make us your home page
Instagram

Inflation eases except for food and gas prices

WASHINGTON — Consumers paid more for food and gas last month, although inflation outside those volatile categories was tame.

The Labor Department said the Consumer Price Index rose 0.3 percent in September, below August's 0.4 percent rise. Excluding food and energy, so-called core prices increased 0.1 percent, the smallest rise since March.

Inflation has worsened this year, after the cost of oil, grains and other commodities spiked in the spring. But economists expect price increases to moderate in the coming months as weak growth lowers commodity prices.

A small amount of inflation is good for the economy. It encourages businesses and consumers to spend and invest money sooner rather than later, before inflation erodes its value.

Still, Americans are facing higher food and gas prices at a difficult time. The unemployment rate has been roughly 9 percent for more than two years. Hiring is slow, and few people are seeing much in the way of raises. Steeper prices for basic necessities have forced many to cut back on more discretionary purchases. That has slowed overall growth.

Food prices rose 0.4 percent in September, pushed up by big increases in the dairy, cereals, and fruits and vegetables categories. Gas prices rose 2.9 percent.

Dairy prices have jumped 10.2 percent in the past year. Gas prices have soared 33.3 percent.

Those increases are key reasons that overall inflation has jumped 3.9 percent in the 12 months ending in September, the largest year-over-year increase in three years. Core prices have increased 2 percent for the same period.

At the same time, inflation-adjusted average hourly earnings fell 0.1 percent in September, the Labor Department said Wednesday. In the past year, average inflation-adjusted hourly earnings have dropped 1.9 percent.

The core index has reached the top of the Federal Reserve's informal inflation target of between 1.5 percent and 2 percent. But Fed policymakers also expect inflation to moderate in the coming months. Last month, Fed officials said that inflation would decline to levels "at or below" the target, according to minutes released last week.

On a brighter note, prices for other goods have fallen or flattened. Clothing prices plummeted 1.1 percent last month, their steepest drop in 13 years. That comes after four months of sharp increases. Used car prices fell, while new car prices were unchanged for the third straight month.

Fed report shows rise in activity

Most areas of the country reported slight economic improvement in September and early October, according to a Federal Reserve survey of its 12 bank regions, known as the Beige Book. But several regions said a hazier economic outlook is making businesses more cautious and holding back their spending. The Fed said Wednesday that consumer spending rose slightly in most districts, as did manufacturing, particularly in the auto industry, which has been hampered since the March 11 earthquake in Japan. The Atlanta region, which includes all of Florida, reported job growth in manufacturing, transportation and energy, while workers with specialized skills in such fields as information technology were seeing wage gains.

Inflation eases except for food and gas prices 10/19/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 19, 2011 8:36pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Republicans to unveil broad tax cuts Wednesday, put off tough decisions

    Business

    President Donald Trump and top Republicans will promise a package of sweeping tax cuts for companies and individuals, the Washington Post reports, but the GOP leaders will stop short of labeling many of the tax breaks they hope to strip away, putting off controversial decisions that threaten to sink the party's tax …

    President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in the Rose Garden of the White House, Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017, in Washington. [Alex Brandon | Associated Press]
  2. Double your fun: Twitter's testing a 280-character limit for tweets

    News

    Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey last year made a definitive announcement about the company's famous 140-character count amid rumors that the firm would substantially relax the limit. "It's staying," Dorsey told the "Today" show's Matt Lauer. "It's a good constraint for us."

    In this 2013, file photo, the Twitter logo appears on an updated phone post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. [AP photo]
  3. Datz to open in St. Petersburg, join the James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art

    Food & Dining

    Now Datz news.

    Get it? Tuesday, Datz, the longtime line-out-the-door, oft-Instagrammed and -Yelped Tampa stalwart known for shock-and-awe sandwiches and oh-so-much bacon, announced it is coming to St. Petersburg.

    Lunch guest eat at Datz Deli at 2616 South MacDill Ave. in Tampa. Times files.
  4. Equifax CEO Richard Smith steps down amid hacking scandal

    Personal Finance

    The chief executive of Equifax, the troubled credit reporting agency that suffered a massive data breach affecting as many as 143 million people, will retire, effective Tuesday, according to a statement by the company.

    Richard Smith, chief executive of Equifax, the troubled credit reporting agency that suffered a massive data breach that affected as many as 143 million people, will reportedly retire effective Tuesday.
[File photo: Joey Ivansco/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP]
  5. Bass Pro acquires Cabela's for $4 billion

    Retail

    Bass Pro Shops has acquired competitor Cabela's for a reported $4 billion. Bass Pro indicated it is seeking to appeal to all "outdoor enthusiasts" with the move, roping in hunting customers from Cabela's.

    Bass Pro Shops acquired Cabela's for $4 billion, Bass Pro announced Tuesday. | [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]