Prices Encourage Households to Offset Costs



Price trends in December continued to push households toward using lower prices for food at home and energy to offset rising prices focused primarily in services, rent, and house payments—according to a first look at the latest U.S. consumer price numbers.

The emerging decline in food prices from the prior month (-0.5%) and a year ago (-0.5%) will especially encourage older, lower-income households to economize on their grocery shopping to pay for higher prices for medical services and other costs.

Rent, house payments, and education costs show inflation pressure that is most evident (>3%) on a year-to-year and year-to-date level. That pressure means those categories are likely taking a larger share of the household budget.

  • Amid the extremes in falling versus rising prices, overall price inflation remained almost invisible in December as measured month-to-month (-0.1%), year-to-year (0.7%), and year-to-date (0.1%).
  • Inflation is most evident excluding food and energy—although still at relatively modest levels. It is up month-to-month (0.1%), year-to-year (2.1%), and year-to-date (1.8%).

See the table summary for more detail.

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