There was little relief from inflation in March

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Gasoline and rent led prices higher for another month

If you drove a car and paid rent last month, you felt the worst effects of inflation. The Consumer Price Index rose 0.4% in March, the same as February. But rent and gasoline accounted for half of the increase.

 The energy index, which includes gasoline, rose 1.1% – a significant one-month move. The price of gas rose 1.7% and is up 1.3% over the last 12 months.

Gasoline prices are rising in concert with oil prices. According to AAA, the national average price of regular gas is $3.61 a gallon, seven cents higher over the last seven days and 22 cents higher than a month ago.

The cost of shelter has risen at least 0.4% per month since November and is 5.7% higher year-over-year. Most of that increase is the result of rising rent.

Some relief

Though it might not feel like it, there is some relief at the supermarket. The cost of groceries showed no increase for a second straight month in March and is up 1.2% over the last 12 months. But it all depends on what you buy.

The cost of fruits and vegetables fell 0.3%, the price of dairy and related products declined by 0.4% and cereal and grain prices fell by 0.6%. But meat, poultry, fish and egg prices jumped by 0.8%.

The cost of food consumed away from home, the government’s category for restaurant meals, continued to be a pain point for diners. Those costs rose 0.3% from February to March and are up more than 4% over the last 12 months.

 The index for limited-service meals rose 0.3% while the index for full-service meals increased 0.2%, suggesting fast food menu prices are rising faster than full-service restaurants.

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