Consumer Prices Jump 5% in May, Fastest Inflation since 2008

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.6 percent
in May on a seasonally adjusted basis after rising 0.8 percent in April, the
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, the
all items index increased 5.0 percent before seasonal adjustment; this was the
largest 12-month increase since a 5.4-percent increase for the period ending
August 2008.

The index for used cars and trucks continued to rise sharply, increasing
7.3 percent in May. This increase accounted for about one-third of the
seasonally adjusted all items increase. The food index increased 0.4 percent in
May, the same increase as in April. The energy index was unchanged in May, with
a decline in the gasoline index again offsetting increases in the electricity
and natural gas indexes. 

The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.7 percent in May after
increasing 0.9 percent in April. Many of the same indexes continued to increase,
including used cars and trucks, household furnishings and operations, new
vehicles, airline fares, and apparel. The index for medical care fell slightly,
one of the few major component indexes to decline in May.  

The all items index rose 5.0 percent for the 12 months ending May; it has been
trending up every month since January, when the 12-month change was 1.4 percent.
The index for all items less food and energy rose 3.8 percent over the last
12-months, the largest 12-month increase since the period ending June 1992. The
energy index rose 28.5 percent over the last 12-months, and the food index
increased 2.2 percent.

Food

The food index increased 0.4 percent in May. The index for food at home increased
0.4 percent, the same increase as in April. However, while the April index was
broad-based, with all six major grocery store food group indexes rising, the May
increase was mostly due to the index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs, which
increased 1.3 percent over the month. The beef index rose 2.3 percent in May, its
largest increase since last June. The index for cereals and bakery products rose
0.5 percent in May, and the index for dairy and related products increased
0.4 percent. 

In contrast to these increases, the index for nonalcoholic beverages declined in
May, falling 0.5 percent. The index for fruits and vegetables was unchanged in May
after rising in each of the last 3 months. The index for fresh vegetables rose
0.5 percent in May, but the index for fresh fruits declined 0.3 percent. The index
for other food at home was also unchanged in May after increasing in April.

The food away from home index rose 0.6 percent in May following a 0.3-percent
increase in April. The index for full service meals rose 0.6 percent, its largest
increase since last June. The index for limited service meals increased 0.5 percent,
the same increase as in both March and April.  

The food at home index increased 0.7 percent over the past 12 months. Five of the
six major grocery store food group indexes increased, but the index for fruits and
vegetables was the only one to rise more than 0.6 percent; it increased 2.9 percent.
The only index to decline was nonalcoholic beverages, which fell 0.2 percent over
the last 12 months. 

The index for food away from home rose 4.0 percent over the last year. The index
for limited service meals rose 6.1 percent since May 2020. The index for full
service meals rose 4.1 percent over the last 12 months; this was its largest
12-month increase since the period ending October 2008. The index for food at
employee sites and schools declined sharply over the last year, falling
34.4 percent. 

Energy

The energy index was unchanged in May after declining slightly in April. As in
April, the gasoline index fell, while other energy component indexes increased.
The gasoline index declined 0.7 percent in May after falling 1.4 percent in April.
(Before seasonal adjustment, gasoline prices rose 4.2 percent in May.) The index
for natural gas increased 1.7 percent in May, while the index for electricity
advanced 0.3 percent following a 1.2-percent increase the prior month. 

The energy index rose 28.5 percent over the past 12 months. The gasoline index
rose 56.2 percent since May 2020, when it was at its lowest level since February
2016. The May 2021 increase was the largest 12-month increase since the period
ending April 1980. The index for electricity increased 4.2 percent over the last
year, while the index for natural gas rose 13.5 percent. 

All items less food and energy

The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.7 percent in May following
a 0.9-percent increase in April. The index for used cars and trucks continued
to rise sharply, increasing 7.3 percent in May after a 10.0-percent increase
in April. The shelter index rose 0.3 percent in May. The index for rent rose
0.2 percent and the index for owners’ equivalent rent increased 0.3 percent.
The index for lodging away from home, which rose 7.6 percent in April,
increased 0.4 percent in May.   

The household furnishings and operations index increased 1.3 percent in May, its
largest monthly increase since January 1976. The indexes for domestic services
and for furniture and bedding were among the component indexes contributing to
the increase. The index for new vehicles rose 1.6 percent in May, its largest
1-month increase since October 2009. The index for airline fares continued to
increase, rising 7.0 percent in May after increasing 10.2 percent the prior
month. The apparel index also rose in May, increasing 1.2 percent.

The index for car and truck rentals continued to rise, increasing 12.1 percent
after rising 16.2 percent the prior month. The index for recreation rose 0.2
percent in May following a 0.9-percent increase in April. The motor vehicle
insurance index advanced 0.7 percent in May after increasing 2.5 percent the
prior month. The indexes for education, for communication, and for alcoholic
beverages also increased in May.

The medical care index declined 0.1 percent in May after rising in each of the
4 previous months. Medical care component indexes were mixed. The index for
prescription drugs declined 0.3 percent in May after rising 0.5 percent in April.
The hospital services index increased 0.2 percent, while the physicians’ services
index was unchanged.  

The index for all items less food and energy rose 3.8 percent over the past 12
months. The index for used cars and trucks increased 29.7 percent, while the index
for motor vehicle insurance rose 16.9 percent. The index for new vehicles rose 3.3
percent over the past 12 months, its largest 12-month increase since the period
ending November 2011. The index for car and truck rental more than doubled over the
past 12 months, rising 109.8 percent. The shelter index increased 2.2 percent over
the last 12 months. The medical care index rose 0.9 percent over the past 12 months,
its smallest increase since the period ending March 1941.  

Not seasonally adjusted CPI measures

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 5.0 percent over
the last 12 months to an index level of 269.195 (1982-84=100). For the month, the
index increased 0.8 percent prior to seasonal adjustment.  

The Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W)
increased 5.6 percent over the last 12 months to an index level of 263.612
(1982-84=100). For the month, the index rose 0.9 percent prior to seasonal
adjustment.  

The Chained Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (C-CPI-U) increased 5.0
percent over the last 12 months. For the month, the index increased 0.8 percent
on a not seasonally adjusted basis. Please note that the indexes for the past
10 to 12 months are subject to revision. 

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