Consumer Price Index: October Headline at 2.0%

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the October Consumer Price Index data this morning. The year-over-year non-seasonally adjusted Headline CPI came in at 2.04%, down from 2.23% the previous month. Year-over-year Core CPI (ex Food and Energy) came in at 1.77%, up fractionally from the previous month's 1.69%.

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) rose 0.1 percent in October on a seasonally adjusted basis, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, the all items index rose 2.0 percent.

The shelter index increased 0.3 percent and was the main factor in the seasonally adjusted all items increase. The energy index fell, as a decline in the gasoline index outweighed increases in other energy component indexes. The food index was unchanged over the month.

The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.2 percent in October. In addition to the shelter index, the indexes for medical care, used cars and trucks, tobacco, education, motor vehicle insurance, and personal care were among those that increased. The indexes for new vehicles, recreation, and apparel all declined.

The all items index rose 2.0 percent for the 12 months ending October, a smaller increase than the 2.2-percent increase for the period ending September. The index for all items less food and energy rose 1.8 percent over the past year, a slightly larger increase compared to the 1.7-percent increase for the 12 months ending September. The energy index increased 6.4 percent over the last 12 months, and the index for food rose 1.3 percent. [More…] was looking for a 0.1% increase MoM in seasonally adjusted Headline CPI and 0.2% in Core CPI. Year-over-year forecasts were 2.0% for Headline and 1.7% 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 below the PCE target range of 2 percent.