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Inflation slowed again in February thanks to falling energy prices

But food and shelter costs continue to rise

Photo (c) Alexsl - Getty Images
Consumers paid more for food and shelter last month but the cost of heating homes fell sharply. The Labor Department’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased by 0.4% after a 0.5% rise in January.

Natural gas prices plunged 8% last month but are still 14% higher than 12 months ago. The cost of fuel oil dropped 7.9% while remaining 9.2% higher than a year ago.

The cost of electricity rose last month, but not by much. Electric bills were 0.5% higher than in January but consumers are paying 12.9% more for electricity than in February 2022.

Motorists also saw another small increase in prices at the pump. The cost of gasoline was up 1% over January but compared to 12 months ago, gas prices were down 1.2%.

Food costs rose 0.4% in February, perhaps causing consumers the most inflationary pain. It was still cheaper to eat at home last month. The price of food purchased at a store and consumed at home rose 0.3% while food consumed at bars, restaurants and convenience stores rose 0.4%. Overall food costs were 9.5% higher than a year ago.

High cost of shelter

There was also little relief for people renting an apartment or buying a home. Shelter costs rose 0.8%, slightly more than in January. 

Used car prices continued to fall last month, registering a 2.8% decline, and were 13% cheaper than a year ago. New vehicle prices continued to rise as dealers continued to mark up cars and trucks over the sticker price.

Taking everything into consideration, consumer prices are 6% higher than they were a year ago, well off their peak last June.

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