Overall import prices down 1.9 percent over the year

June 14, 2013

U.S. import prices fell 1.9 percent for the year ended in May; overall import prices have not recorded a 12-month increase since April 2012.

Percent change, May 2012 to May 2013, and relative importance, 2011, U.S. import price indexes, selected categories of goods
Import categoryRelative importance(1)Percent change

All imported commodities


Industrial supplies and materials


Consumer goods, excluding automotives


Capital goods


Automotive vehicles, parts and engines


Foods, feeds, and beverages


(1) Relative importance figures are based on 2011 trade values.


For the year ended in May, the price index for import fuel decreased 4.4 percent. (Fuels and lubricants accounted for 21.2 percent of the total value of imports in 2011 and are part of the industrial supplies and materials commodities category.) The decrease in the price index for import fuel over the past 12 months was led by falling petroleum prices, which more than offset rising natural gas prices. Prices for petroleum (which accounted for 20.2 percent of imports) declined 6.2 percent for the May 2012–May 2013 period. In contrast, prices for natural gas (which made up about two-thirds of one percent of imports) increased 97.0 percent over the past year, after decreasing 49.0 percent between May 2011 and May 2012.

Nonfuel import prices fell 1.1 percent over the May 2012–May 2013 period. Prices for industrial supplies and materials excluding fuels (13.4 percent of imports) fell 4.8 percent over the past 12 months.  Prices for capital goods (24.0 percent of imports) fell 0.5 percent.  Prices for automotive vehicles, parts and engines (12.2 percent of imports) decreased 0.2 percent. There was no change in prices for consumer goods excluding automotives (24.2 percent of imports) for the year ending in May.

Overall, prices for imports from Japan fell 1.4 percent over the past year, the largest 12-month drop for the index since November 2006. Import prices from China decreased 1.0 percent for the year ended in May. Prices for imports from the European Union and Mexico also fell during the May 2012–May 2013 period, declining 0.3 percent and 1.8 percent, respectively. Import prices from Canada increased 1.2 percent.

The price index for U.S. exports fell 0.9 percent over the past year, led by falling nonagricultural prices. In contrast, agricultural prices rose over the same period.

These data are from the BLS International Price program. To learn more, see "U.S. Import and Export Price Indexes — May 2013" (HTML) (PDF), news release USDL‑13‑1142.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Overall import prices down 1.9 percent over the year on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2013/ted_20130614.htm (visited September 30, 2016).


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