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June Consumer Price Index: Year-over-Year Core at 1.8%

July 17, 2015

by Doug Short

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the June CPI data this morning. The year-over-year unadjusted Headline CPI came in at 0.12% (rounded to 0.1%), up from -0.04% (rounded to 0.0%) the previous month. Year-over-year Core CPI (ex Food and Energy) came in at 1.76% (rounded to 1.8%), up fractionally from the previous month's 1.72% (rounded to 1.7%).

Here is the introduction from the BLS summary, which leads with the seasonally adjusted monthly data:

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.3 percent in June on a seasonally adjusted basis, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, the all items index rose 0.1 percent before seasonal adjustment.

The seasonally adjusted all items increase was broad-based, with advances in the indexes for gasoline, shelter, and food all contributing. The energy index rose for the second straight month as the indexes for gasoline, electricity, and natural gas all increased. The food index posted its largest increase since September 2014, partly due to a sharp increase in the eggs index.

The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.2 percent in June. In addition to the rise in the shelter index, the indexes for recreation, airline fares, personal care, tobacco, and new vehicles were among the indexes that increased in June. These advances more than offset declines in the indexes for medical care, household furnishings and operations, used cars and trucks, and apparel.

The all items index showed a 12-month increase for the first time since December, rising 0.1 percent for the 12 months ending June. Despite rising in May and June, the energy index has still declined 15.0 percent over the past year. However, the indexes for food and for all items less food and energy have both risen 1.8 percent over the past 12 months. [More…] was looking for a 0.3% increase in the seasonally adjusted Headline CPI and a 0.2% rise in Core CPI. Year-over-year forecasts were 0.1% for Headline and 1.8% for Core.

The first chart is an overlay of Headline CPI and Core CPI (the latter excludes Food and Energy) since the turn of the century. The highlighted two percent level is the Federal Reserve's Core inflation target for the CPI's cousin index, the BEA's Personal Consumptions Expenditures (PCE) price index.

Headline and Core CPI since 2000

The next chart shows both series since 1957, which was the first time the government began tracking Core Inflation.

Headline and Core CPI

In the wake of the Great Recession, two percent has been the Fed's target for core inflation. However, at their December 2012 FOMC meeting, the inflation ceiling was raised to 2.5% while their accommodative measures (low Fed Funds Rate and quantitative easing) were in place. They have since reverted to the two percent target in their various FOMC documents.

Federal Reserve policy, which in recent history has focused on core inflation measured by the core PCE Price Index, will see that the more familiar core CPI remains below the PCE target range of 2 percent.