Inflation Eases in December to 6.5%,

The Labor Department said Thursday that the consumer price index, a broad measure of the price for everyday goods including gasoline, groceries and rents, fell 0.1% in December from the previous month. Prices climbed 6.5% on an annual basis.

It marked the slowest annual inflation rate since October 2021 and the slowest monthly rate since April 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 lockdowns. Still, inflation remains about three times higher than the pre-pandemic average, underscoring the persistent financial burden placed on millions of U.S. households by high prices.

Core prices – which strip out the more volatile measurements of food and energy – climbed 0.3% in December from the previous month, up from 0.2% in November. From the same time last year, core prices jumped 5.7%. Those figures were also in line with economists’ expectations.

Rent costs jumped 0.8% over the month and 8.3% on an annual basis. Rising rents are a concerning development because higher housing costs most directly and acutely affect household budgets. Another data point that measures how much homeowners would pay in equivalent rent if they had not bought their home, climbed 0.8% from the previous month.