Here’s what cost more – and less – in September

Photo (c) Jay K7 - Getty Images

Inflation increased at a faster-than-expected rate, rising 8.2% year-over-year

Consumers probably won’t be surprised to learn that inflation continued at a hotter-than-expected pace last month.

The Labor Department reports the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 0.4% from August to September and is up 8.2% over the last 12 months. Many basic costs consumers pay continued to rise.

For example, food costs rose 0.8% in one month, matching August’s increase. Over the last 12 months, the cost of food has risen 11.2%.

Breaking it down, the cost of food purchased at grocery stores and prepared at home was up 0.7%, also matching August’s increase. Year-over-year, supermarket food costs are up 13%.

The cost of fruits and vegetables was the biggest driver, rising 1.6% in one month. The cost of cereals and bakery products increased by 0.9% in September.

The index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs rose at a slower pace, gaining 0.4% in the last month. The same is true of dairy products, which rose 0.3%.

Dining out got more expensive

Restaurants are beginning to catch up. The cost of food consumed away from home rose 0.9% in September and is 8.5% higher over the last 12 months.

In the food away-from-home category, the index for full-service meals increased by 0.4% and the index for limited-service meals increased by 0.6% over the month. 

Housing costs remained elevated last month but at least didn’t increase. The cost of shelter rose 0.7% in September, the same as August. The cost of putting a roof over your head is up 6.6% over the last 12 months.

The cost of medical care services – things like doctors' office visits – slowed considerably last month, rising just 0.1%. Those costs were up 0.8% in August and are 6.5% higher on the year.

Used car prices are coming down to earth

While new car prices continued to rise, the price of used cars and trucks continued to fall, dropping another 1.1% last month. For the year, however, used vehicle prices are up 7.2%.

Consumers also paid less for gasoline last month. The cost of gas was down 4.9% in September but is still 18.2% higher than a year ago. 

With winter on the way, other energy costs continue to rise. The cost of electricity gained 0.4% while natural gas costs surged 2.9%.

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