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A gas pump
A gasoline pump rests in the tank of a car. Photograph by Justin Sullivan — Getty Images

Cost of living increases the most in more than a year

Jun 17, 2014

U.S. consumer prices swelled in May, showing their largest increase since February 2013, as prices for food, electricity and gasoline all leapt.

The seasonally adjusted consumer price index (CPI) grew 0.4% in May, according to the Labor Department on Tuesday. The growth was broad, as the indexes for shelter, electricity, food, airline fares and gasoline all increased. Notably, the food index posted its largest increase since August 2011, as prices for various meats, fruits and vegetables, and dairy products grew. The only exception was the cereals and bakery products segment, which posted a modest decline.

The Department of Labor’s CPI measures consumer-level inflation.

The index for all items excluding food and energy increased 0.3% in May. Prices climbed for medical care, apparel and new vehicles, though they declined for household furnishings and used cars and trucks.

There have been some mixed signs about the strength of the U.S. economy. Though employers continue to add jobs, which can lift consumer discretionary spending, long-term unemployment, stagnant wages and low labor force participation continue to vex policymakers. Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund this week cut its 2014 growth forecast for the United States, citing a harsh winter, though the organization said a meaningful rebound is underway.

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