Consumer Price Index: Headline CPI Rises to 2.5%

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the January Consumer Price Index data this morning. The year-over-year non-seasonally adjusted Headline CPI came in at 2.50%, up from 2.07% the previous month. Year-over-year Core CPI (ex Food and Energy) came in at 2.27%, up from the previous month's 2.20%. This is the second month of Headline CPI above 2% since June 2014, 30 months ago.

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 0.6 percent in January on a seasonally adjusted basis, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, the all items index rose 2.5 percent before seasonal adjustment.

The January increase was the largest seasonally adjusted all items increase since February 2013. A sharp rise in the gasoline index accounted for nearly half the increase, and advances in the indexes for shelter, apparel, and new vehicles also were major contributors.

The energy index increased 4.0 percent in January as the gasoline index advanced 7.8 percent and the index for natural gas also increased. The food index, which had been unchanged for 6 consecutive months, increased 0.1 percent.The food at home index was unchanged, while the index for food away from home rose 0.4 percent.

The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.3 percent in January. Most of the major component indexes increased in January, with the indexes for apparel, new vehicles, motor vehicle insurance, and airline fares all rising 0.8 percent or more. The shelter index rose 0.2 percent, a smaller increase than in recent months. [More…]

Investing.com was looking for a 0.3% increase MoM in seasonally adjusted Headline CPI and 0.2% in Core CPI. Year-over-year forecasts were 2.4% for Headline and 2.1% 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 Consumption Expenditures (PCE) price index.

Headline and Core CPI since 2000

The next chart shows both series since 1957, the year the government first 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 is above the PCE target range of 2 percent.