(CN) – Consumer prices rose for a fifth straight month in August, but the pace of annual increases actually eased for the first time this year, the Labor Department said Thursday.
The consumer price index, which captures what Americans pay for a wide range of products, rose a seasonally adjusted 0.2 percent in August from the prior month. Excluding volatile food and energy sectors, prices increased 0.1 percent.
According to the department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, over the last 12 months, the index rose 2.7 percent before seasonal adjustment.
Despite the monthly gain, annual inflation softened from the 2.9 percent pace set during the 12 months ended in July.
The more modest inflation rate should help to boost the spending power of Americans whose wage gains had been eaten up by higher prices.
Gas prices jumped 3 percent last month and 20.3 percent on the year, while shelter expenses have climbed 3.4 percent annually.
In a separate report, the government announced real average hourly earnings for all employees increased a seasonally adjusted 0.1 percent from July to August.
This result stems from a 0.4-percent increase in average hourly earnings combined with the 0.2-percent increase in the consumer price index and no change in the average workweek.