Cost of Shelter, Energy Fuel December’s Higher-Than-Expected Inflation

Craig Bannister | January 11, 2024
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Prices rose more than analysts expected in December, from both last month and last year, Thursday’s inflation report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reveals.

The seasonally-adjusted Consumer Price Index (CPI) for December jumped 0.3 percent from November, three times November’s 0.1 percent rise from October’s level. Compared to the same month in 2022, December prices were 3.4 percent higher.

The so-called “core” cost index, which excludes food and energy, increased 0.3 percent from November and 3.9 percent over the last 12 months.

The index for shelter continued to rise in December, accounting for more than half of the monthly all-items increase. The cost of shelter increased 0.5 percent from November and 6.2 percent from November 2022. The cost of rent increased 0.4 percent for the month and 6.5 over the past year., as did the lodging away from home index.

The price of energy in December jumped 0.4 percent from November, in sharp contrast to November’s 6.0 percent decline from the previous month. In December, the increased price of gasoline more than offset a decline in the cost of natural gas. The energy index decreased 2.0 percent from year-ago.

The price of food increased 0.2 percent in December, as the cost of meats, poultry, fish, and eggs spiked 0.5 percent from November, while the cost of cereals and bakery products dipped 0.3 percent. Compared to December 2022, food prices were up 2.7 percent.

Other indexes with notable increases over the last year include motor vehicle insurance (+20.3 percent), recreation (+2.7 percent), personal care (+5.0 percent), and education (+2.4 percent).

"Inflation is surging once again, destroying the narrative that the inflation fight is over. Prices of goods and services are still rising at nearly twice the Federal Reserve's target rate,” Job Creators Network CEO Alfredo Ortiz said in a statement responding to the BLS report.

“Resurgent inflation is a direct result of reckless spending by the Biden administration and Congress. The only way to truly get inflation under control is by ending reckless spending,” Ortiz warns.

Republicans in Congress were, likewise, unimpressed with the December report, issuing a statement to put last month’s numbers into perspective:

“The “higher than expected” numbers come amid “a reversal of some of the declines” from previous months. It’s the 33rd straight month with inflation above three percent and caps a year in which Americans saw massive price increases in areas like car insurance, car repairs, and non-prescription drugs.

“Overall, prices have risen by 17.3 percent since Biden took office. Electricity is up by 25 percent, food prices are up by 20.2 percent, and rent is up by 19 percent under Biden.”

….

“Meantime, inflation remains twice the rate it was when Biden took office. On a year-over-year basis, inflation has averaged 5.7 percent under Biden — more than double the level under any of the past four presidents.”

The business and economic reporting of CNSNews is funded in part with a gift made in memory of Dr. Keith C. Wold.

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