The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the Februrary Consumer Price Index data this morning. The year-over-year non-seasonally adjusted Headline CPI came in at 2.21%, up from 2.07% the previous month. Year-over-year Core CPI (ex Food and Energy) came in at 1.85%, up from the previous month's 1.82%.

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 0.2 percent in February on a seasonally adjusted basis after rising 0.5 percent in January, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, the all items index rose 2.2 percent before seasonal adjustment.

The indexes for shelter, apparel, and motor vehicle insurance all rose and contributed to the 1-month seasonally adjusted increase in the all items index. The food index was unchanged in February, as a decline in the index for food at home offset an increase in the food away from home index. The energy index increased slightly, with its component indexes mixed.

The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.2 percent in February following a 0.3-percent increase in January. Along with shelter, apparel, and motor vehicle insurance, the indexes for household furnishings and operations, education, personal care, and airline fares also increased in February. In contrast, the indexes for communication, new vehicles, medical care, and used cars and trucks declined over the month.

The all items index rose 2.2 percent for the 12 months ending February, a slightly larger increase than the 2.1-percent rise for the 12 months ending January. The index for all items less food and energy rose 1.8 percent over the past year, while the energy index increased 7.7 percent and the food index advanced 1.4 percent. [More…] was looking for a 0.2% increase MoM in seasonally adjusted Headline CPI and 0.2% in Core CPI. Year-over-year forecasts were 2.2% 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 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.