PhotoA smidgeon of inflation in April.

The Labor Department (DOL) reports its Consumer Price Index rose a slight 0.2% on a seasonally adjusted basis in April, and is up 2.2% over the last 12 months.

Energy and Food costs rise

The price of energy shot up 1.1% last month after falling in March and February. Gasoline which was down 6.2% in March, jumped 1.2%, while natural gas was up 2.2% and electricity rose 0.6%.

Over the past 12 months, gasoline is up 14.3%, natural gas has surged 12.0%, while electricity posted a more modest advance of 2.4%.

The cost of food was up just 0.2%, but it was the fourth increase in a row.

The grocery prices component was up 0.2%, with fruits and vegetables costs up 2.2%, thanks to a 5.1% surge for fresh vegetables -- the largest increase since February 2011.

Four of the five remaining major grocery store food groups fell including meats, poultry, fish, & eggs (-0.6%), cereals & bakery products (- 0.3%), nonalcoholic beverages (-0.3) and dairy (-0.2%). The “other groceries” category increased 0.1%.

Grocery prices have fallen 0.8% over the past year, while the cost of restaurant meals, which was up 0.2% in April, posted a year-over year gain of 2.3%.

Core inflation

The cost of all items excluding the volatile food and energy categories -- the “core” rate of inflation -- rose 0.1% in April after

declining in March. Increased costs were registered for housing (+0.3%) and tobacco (+4.2), along with alcoholic beverages, education and personal care.

Areas that saw declines included communication, with prices for wireless phone service down 1.7%, along with medical care (-0.2%), used cars and trucks (-0.5) and clothing (-0.3%).

The core rate of inflation rose 1.9% over the last 12 months compared with an average annual increase 1.8% over the past decade.

The full report may be found on the DOL website.



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