April 16, 2009
On a seasonally adjusted basis, the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) decreased 0.1 percent in March after rising 0.4 percent in February. The decrease was due to a downturn in the energy index, which declined 3.0 percent in March after rising 3.3 percent the previous month.
All the energy indexes decreased in March, particularly the indexes for fuel oil, natural gas, and motor fuel.
The food index declined 0.1 percent for the second straight month to virtually the same level as October 2008. The food at home index declined 0.4 percent, the second straight such decrease, as the index for dairy and related products continued to decline.
The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.2 percent for the third month in a row, and has risen 1.8 percent over the past year. An 11.0-percent increase in the index for tobacco and smoking products accounted for over sixty percent of the March rise, with a 0.6-percent increase in the new vehicles index also contributing.
In contrast, the indexes for lodging away from home, used cars and trucks, and airline fares continued to decline.
For the 12-month period ending in March 2009, the CPI-U decreased 0.4 percent, as shown in the chart. This is the first 12-month decline in this index since August 1955.