WASHINGTON (5/16/14)--The volatile costs of food and gas in April spiked the consumer price index to its largest gain since June, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The seasonally adjusted 0.3% increase was the sixth such consecutive move by the index, which measures purchases in eight categories--food and beverages, housing, apparel, transportation, medical care, recreation, education and communication, and other goods and services.
A 2.9% hike in the price of beef--the largest cut into consumer budgets since 2003--led the way in food and beverage prices, which saw a 0.4% increase from the month prior. This is the third month that the food index has risen. "The surge in farm prices was a big contributor to producer prices in the last two months," said analysts at Moody's (Economy.com May 15).
In April, energy prices ticked up 0.3%, led by a 2.3% increase in the cost of gasoline.
Excluding food and energy, core consumer prices increased 0.2% from March and 1.8% year-over-year.
With April payroll levels remaining static, real inflation-adjusted hourly wages decreased 0.3%--the biggest decline in 14 months. The combination of rising prices and stagnant wages is making it harder for consumers to make ends meet (MarketWatch May 15).