The consumer price index, which measures a wide basket of goods and services, rose just 0.1% from the previous month, and increased 7.1% from a year ago, the Labor Department reported Tuesday. Excluding volatile food and energy prices, so-called core CPI rose 0.2% on the month and 6% on an annual basis.
Falling energy prices helped keep inflation at bay. The energy index declined 1.6% for the month, due in part to a 2% decrease in gasoline. Food prices, however, rose 0.5% and were up 10.6% from a year ago. Even with its monthly decline, the energy index was higher by 13.1% from November 2021. Shelter costs, which make up about one-third of CPI weighting, continued to escalate, rising 0.6% on the month and now up 7.1% on an annual basis.
Used vehicle prices, which had been a major contributor to the initial inflation burst, fell 2.9% for the month and are now down 3.3% from a year ago. As recently as February, the used cars and trucks index was up more than 40% on an annual basis, the result of higher demand as a microchip shortage caused a backlog in new car production.
Medical care services costs also declined 0.7% on a monthly basis and were up 4.4% annually.