So which way is inflation headed --- up or down? With release of the consumer price index for April, confusion still reigns, notes Grumpy Editor.
The headline on a May 15 news release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics read:
CPI all items unchanged in April as decline in energy index offsets other increases
Working off the BLS data, a Wall Street Journal story followed that with its own headline:
Inflation Eases as Gasoline Prices Fall
The BLS lead spelled out, “On a seasonally adjusted basis, the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers was unchanged in April after increasing 0.3 percent in March. The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.2 percent in April, the same increase as in March."
That’s where the confusion starts with words unchanged and rose in the same paragraph.
As the WSJ pointed out, the CPI “measures what Americans pay for everything from breakfast cereal to doctor visits.”
So that was heralded as unchanged, according to the BLS, from March to April.
But then “core” prices entered the picture.
The BLS news release indicated, “The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.2 percent in April, the same increase as in March. Increases in the indexes for shelter, used cars and trucks, medical care, airline fares, new vehicles and apparel all contributed significantly to the April increase.”
With that, the WSJ story added core prices “were up 2.3 percent from a year ago --- matching the biggest 12-month increase in this category since September 2008.”
Now are you briefed on which way inflation is going.