The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) declined 0.3% in November on a seasonally adjusted basis, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, the all items index – also called ‘headline inflation’ – increased 1.3%.
The BLS noted that the gasoline index – which fell a whopping 6.6% – posted its sharpest decline since December 2008 and was the main cause of November’s deflation. Food prices were up a moderate 0.2%, but apparel prices fell 1.1%. Medical care commodities were up 0.6%, and shelter costs were up 0.3%.
Holders of I Bonds and TIPS are also interested in non-seasonally adjusted inflation, which is used to adjust the principal balance of TIPS and set future interest rates for I Bonds. In November, the CPI-U index fell to 236.151, a drop of 0.54%. For the last 12 months, non-seasonally adjusted inflation rose 1.3%. I have updated my Tracking Inflation and I Bonds page to reflect these new numbers.
‘Core inflation’ – which strips out food and energy – rose 0.1% in November and 1.7% over the last 12 months. This demonstrates that even without the sharp decline in gasoline prices, inflation is running below the Federal Reserve’s implied target of 2.0%. Until inflation becomes a threat, the Fed has little reason to act quickly to raise short-term interest rates.
Here is a chart of the one-year trend for U.S. inflation, showing the sharply deflationary move since mid-2014: