Thursday, June 14, 2012

BLS: Prices moderate in Mountain-Plains region in May

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released today the May CPI for US urban areas and regions. In the West region, from May 2011 to May 2012, the CPI increased 2.0 percent, suggesting further moderation in prices 

In the first graph, we see that the year-over-year change in May for the CPI was down from May 2011's change of 3.2 percent, and was well down from 2008's pre-recession annual change of 3.7 percent.

Housing costs, which are a major portion of the CPI, continue to help keep increases in the CPI down. Housing was up year over year by 1.9 percent while "owners' equivalent rent" was up by 2 percent. Rents for tenants, however, were up by 2.9 percent.

On the other hand, apparel was up, year over year, by 4.7 percent although gasoline prices grew only 2.7 percent, according to the BLS. 

Although annual increases in rent (according to State of Colorado data) have exceeded 5 percent in many areas of the state, the housing component of CPI also reflects declining and stagnant home prices region-wide, which indirectly mitigate the increases in rent levels within the index.

The second graph shows year-over-year changes in CPI for all months since 2002. Annual CPI growth hovered around 3 percent for much of 2011, but has been declining during the past eight months.

The CPI increase from April 2012 to May 2012 was 0.2 percent, which was the smallest month-to-month increase since December 2011.

Nationally, the CPI increased slightly more than in the West region:

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) decreased
 0.3 percent in May on a seasonally adjusted basis, the U.S. Bureau of
 Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, the all
 items index increased 1.7 percent before seasonal adjustment.
 The gasoline index declined 6.8 percent in May, leading to a sharp
 decrease in the energy index and the decline in the all items index.
 The indexes for natural gas and fuel oil declined as well, though the
 electricity index increased. The food index was unchanged, with a
 slight decline in the index for food at home offsetting an increase
 in the food away from home index.
Over the past ten years (comparing March 2003 to March 2012), the CPI has risen 23.6 percent. In other words, a dollar today buys less than 80 percent of what it did in 2003.