On September 13, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released their latest summary — for August 2023 — of America’s Consumer Price Index (CPI), the index that is used to calculate inflation rates. The summary is very brief, with only a couple of categories highlighted, such as the rise in the gasoline price index as being the largest contributor to the monthly All Items CPI increase.
Here, we’re going to break down in detail much more of the latest CPI data and what it could mean for the future.
Overview of the Latest CPI Data
The overall measure — All Items, US City Average CPI — increased by 3.7% year-over-year from August 2022 to August 2023. This is slightly higher than July’s year-over-year increase of roughly 3.2%-3.3% yet is still far better than the year-over-year increases of February 2023 (6%) or January 2023 (6.3%). It is also much better than the year-over-year increase for August 2021 to August 2022, which witnessed an increase of 8.2%. However, in terms of month-over-month changes in the All Items Consumer Price Index, July to August 2023’s 0.6% increase is the highest of the year so far.
The Energy CPI actually fell year-on-year, by 3.7%, from August 2022 to August 2023, which is why the All Items Less Food and Energy CPI had a higher year-over-year increase — 4.4% — than just All Items — 3.7%. Unfortunately, on a monthly basis, the Energy Consumer Price Index rose by 5.6% from July to August 2023, the highest month-over-month increase thus far this year. Also worth noting is that, though energy prices fell year-over-year for the month of August, their decline was much steeper for the periods July 2022 to July 2023 (-12.3%) and June 2022 to June 2023 (-16.5%), for instance.
When it comes to the Gasoline Consumer Price Index, it also fell year-over-year for August, by 3.3%. However, its month-over-month change from July to August 2023 was comparatively massive: An increase of 10.6%. The last month-over-month period that matched or surpassed that rate was February to March 2022, when the Gasoline CPI rose by 13.2%.
Breaking Down the Latest CPI Data by Category
Getting down to the nitty-gritty with the latest CPI data reveals some interesting trends hidden underneath the overall All Items CPI figures. Let’s check them out:
Electricity Consumer Price Index
The Electricity CPI inched up by 2.1% from August 2022 to August 2023, the smallest year-over-year increase since the period March 2017 to March 2018, when it was also 2.1%. The peak year-over-year growth rate for the Electricity CPI was from August 2021 to August 2022, when it rocketed by 15.6%.
Utility Gas Consumer Price Index
The prices of utility (piped) gas services have fallen by a good amount since last year: A decline of 16.5% from August 2022 to August 2023. The biggest year-over-year increase in the Utility (piped) gas CPI, of the last five years, was in the period June 2021 to June 2022, went it was 38.4%. Looking back over the last 20 years, the biggest year-over-year increase occurred in October 2004-2005, when it was a staggering 44.6%.
Food Consumer Price Index
Below you’ll find a table detailing year-over-year change in food prices for each month of the year, going back to 2003:
Shelter Consumer Price Index
Below you’ll find a table detailing year-over-year change in housing prices for each month of the year, going back to 2003: