Consumer Price Index: Inflation Rises to 3.5% in March

Consumer prices rose more than expected in March as inflation heated up for a second straight month. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the headline figure for the Consumer Price Index rose to 3.5% year-over-year while core CPI remained at 3.8%. Compared to last month, headline and core prices both increased 0.4%. All readings came in higher than their respective forecasts.

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 0.4 percent in March on a seasonally adjusted basis, the same increase as in February, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, the all items index increased 3.5 percent before seasonal adjustment.

The index for shelter rose in March, as did the index for gasoline. Combined, these two indexes contributed over half of the monthly increase in the index for all items. The energy index rose 1.1 percent over the month. The food index rose 0.1 percent in March. The food at home index was unchanged, while the food away from home index rose 0.3 percent over the month.

The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.4 percent in March, as it did in each of the 2 preceding months. Indexes which increased in March include shelter, motor vehicle insurance, medical care, apparel, and personal care. The indexes for used cars and trucks, recreation, and new vehicles were among those that decreased over the month.

The all items index rose 3.5 percent for the 12 months ending March, a larger increase than the 3.2-percent increase for the 12 months ending February. The all items less food and energy index rose 3.8 percent over the last 12 months. The energy index increased 2.1 percent for the 12 months ending March, the first 12-month increase in that index since the period ending February 2023. The food index increased 2.2 percent over the last year.