May 24, 2012 (The Editor’s Desk is updated each business day.)
From April 2011 to April 2012, the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) for the South increased 2.5 percent—the largest increase among all four U.S. regions (Northeast, Midwest, South, and West).
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Over the year, for the South, the index for food advanced 3.3 percent, as prices for both food at home and food away from home increased, up 3.7 and 2.6 percent, respectively. Energy prices advanced 1.8 percent, as motor fuel prices increased 3.6 percent and prices for electricity rose 1.2 percent. A 7.8-percent drop in prices for utility (piped) gas service helped moderate the overall increase in the energy index. The CPI-U for all items less food and energy advanced 2.4 percent, led by price increases for shelter (2.3 percent), medical care (3.7 percent), and education and communication (2.6 percent).
For the Northeast, the CPI-U for all items increased 2.3 percent over the year. The food index advanced 3.4 percent. Prices for both the food at home and food away from home components increased, up 3.9 and 2.8 percent, respectively. The energy index inched down 0.1 percent. Lower prices for both utility (piped) gas service and electricity, down 11.1 and 3.0 percent, respectively, were nearly offset by a 4.2-percent advance in gasoline prices. The index for all items less food and energy rose 2.4 percent, led by higher shelter prices, up 2.3 percent. Widespread price increases for other components, including medical care (3.5 percent) and apparel (5.5 percent), also contributed to the rise in the all items less food and energy index.
The CPI-U for the Midwest rose 2.3 percent from April 2011 to April 2012. Food prices increased 3.5 percent, led by higher costs for food at home. The index for food away from home also contributed to the advance with a 3.0-percent rise over the year. Energy prices decreased 0.4 percent, due primarily to a 15.3-percent drop in utility (piped) gas service costs. In contrast, the motor fuel index increased 1.8 percent and electricity prices were 3.3 percent higher than a year earlier. The index for all items less food and energy continued to accelerate, rising 2.4 percent. Leading the advance, higher costs for shelter (1.9 percent), medical care (3.7 percent), and apparel (7.0 percent).
Over the year, the CPI-U for the West rose 2.1 percent. Food prices increased 2.5 percent. Prices for food at home advanced 1.9 percento, while prices for food away from home increased 3.2 percent. Energy prices advanced 1.6 percent, largely due to higher prices for gasoline (3.4 percent). Prices paid for electricity advanced 0.3 percent, but prices for natural gas service decreased 8.5 percent. The index for all items less food and energy advanced 2.0 percent. Components contributing to the increase included apparel (4.4 percent), medical care (2.9 percent), and shelter (2.3 percent).