Consumer Prices Edge Higher Due to Rising Fuel and Housing Costs

(CN) – Consumer prices rose 0.4 percent in August, the largest increase in seven months, led by higher fuel and housing prices, the Labor Department said Thursday.

The consumer price index measures changes in the price level of market basket of consumer goods and services purchased by households.

Less the volatile food and energy sectors, the index rose 0.2 percent in August.

Overall, consumer prices were up 1.9 percent last month compared with a year earlier, the second straight increase , the department said.

The data covers the period during which Hurricane Harvey inundated Houston and disrupted oil refineries on the Gulf Coast, pushing up average gas prices nationwide.

Gas prices jumped 6.3 percent last month, the largest increase since January. Housing costs were the other main driver of inflation last month: Hotel prices leapt 4.4 percent, the largest gain on records dating from 1997, after falling by the most on record in July.

Rents rose 0.4 percent, the most in nearly a year.

With the majority of Gulf Coast refineries now operational, gas prices will likely slide back down in September.

On Thursday, AAA pegged the national average gas price at just under $2.65.

The cost of clothing, auto insurance, and health care rose last month. Boys’ clothing prices jumped 9.6 percent, the biggest monthly gain on record.

In a separate report Thursday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said real average hourly earnings for all employees decreased by a seasonally adjusted 0.3 percent from July to August.

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