CONSUMER PRICE INDEX – MAY 2021

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.6 percent in May on a seasonally adjusted basis after rising 0.8 percent in April, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, the all items index increased 5.0 percent before seasonal adjustment; this was the largest 12-month increase since a 5.4-percent increase for the period ending August 2008.

The index for used cars and trucks continued to rise sharply, increasing 7.3 percent in May. This increase accounted for about one-third of the seasonally adjusted all items increase. The food index increased 0.4 percent in May, the same increase as in April. The energy index was unchanged in May, with a decline in the gasoline index again offsetting increases in the electricity and natural gas indexes. 

The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.7 percent in May after increasing 0.9 percent in April. Many of the same indexes continued to increase, including used cars and trucks, household furnishings and operations, new vehicles, airline fares, and apparel. The index for medical care fell slightly, one of the few major component indexes to decline in May.  

The all items index rose 5.0 percent for the 12 months ending May; it has been trending up every month since January, when the 12-month change was 1.4 percent. The index for all items less food and energy rose 3.8 percent over the last 12-months, the largest 12-month increase since the period ending June 1992. The energy index rose 28.5 percent over the last 12-months, and the food index increased 2.2 percent. 

Food

The food index increased 0.4 percent in May. The index for food at home increased 0.4 percent, the same increase as in April. However, while the April index was broad-based, with all six major grocery store food group indexes rising, the May increase was mostly due to the index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs, which increased 1.3 percent over the month. The beef index rose 2.3 percent in May, its largest increase since last June. The index for cereals and bakery products rose 0.5 percent in May, and the index for dairy and related products increased 0.4 percent. 

In contrast to these increases, the index for nonalcoholic beverages declined in May, falling 0.5 percent. The index for fruits and vegetables was unchanged in May after rising in each of the last 3 months. The index for fresh vegetables rose 0.5 percent in May, but the index for fresh fruits declined 0.3 percent. The index for other food at home was also unchanged in May after increasing in April.

The food away from home index rose 0.6 percent in May following a 0.3-percent increase in April. The index for full service meals rose 0.6 percent, its largest increase since last June. The index for limited service meals increased 0.5 percent, the same increase as in both March and April.  

The food at home index increased 0.7 percent over the past 12 months. Five of the six major grocery store food group indexes increased, but the index for fruits and vegetables was the only one to rise more than 0.6 percent; it increased 2.9 percent. The only index to decline was nonalcoholic beverages, which fell 0.2 percent over the last 12 months.  

The index for food away from home rose 4.0 percent over the last year. The index for limited service meals rose 6.1 percent since May 2020. The index for full service meals rose 4.1 percent over the last 12 months; this was its largest 12-month increase since the period ending October 2008. The index for food at employee sites and schools declined sharply over the last year, falling 34.4 percent. 

Energy

The energy index was unchanged in May after declining slightly in April. As in April, the gasoline index fell, while other energy component indexes increased. The gasoline index declined 0.7 percent in May after falling 1.4 percent in April. (Before seasonal adjustment, gasoline prices rose 4.2 percent in May.) The index for natural gas increased 1.7 percent in May, while the index for electricity advanced 0.3 percent following a 1.2-percent increase the prior month. 

The energy index rose 28.5 percent over the past 12 months. The gasoline index rose 56.2 percent since

May 2020, when it was at its lowest level since February 2016. The May 2021 increase was the largest 12-month increase since the period ending April 1980. The index for electricity increased 4.2 percent over the last year, while the index for natural gas rose 13.5 percent. 

All items less food and energy

The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.7 percent in May following a 0.9-percent increase in

April. The index for used cars and trucks continued to rise sharply, increasing 7.3 percent in May after a 10.0-percent increase in April. The shelter index rose 0.3 percent in May. The index for rent rose 0.2 percent and the index for owners’ equivalent rent increased 0.3 percent. The index for lodging away from home, which rose 7.6 percent in April, increased 0.4 percent in May.   

The household furnishings and operations index increased 1.3 percent in May, its largest monthly increase since January 1976. The indexes for domestic services and for furniture and bedding were among the component indexes contributing to the increase. The index for new vehicles rose 1.6 percent in May, its largest 1-month increase since October 2009. The index for airline fares continued to increase, rising 7.0 percent in May after increasing 10.2 percent the prior month. The apparel index also rose in May, increasing 1.2 percent.

The index for car and truck rentals continued to rise, increasing 12.1 percent after rising 16.2 percent the prior month. The index for recreation rose 0.2 percent in May following a 0.9-percent increase in April. The motor vehicle insurance index advanced 0.7 percent in May after increasing 2.5 percent the prior month. The indexes for education, for communication, and for alcoholic beverages also increased in May.

The medical care index declined 0.1 percent in May after rising in each of the 4 previous months.

Medical care component indexes were mixed. The index for prescription drugs declined 0.3 percent in May after rising 0.5 percent in April. The hospital services index increased 0.2 percent, while the physicians’ services index was unchanged.  

The index for all items less food and energy rose 3.8 percent over the past 12 months. The index for used cars and trucks increased 29.7 percent, while the index for motor vehicle insurance rose 16.9 percent. The index for new vehicles rose 3.3 percent over the past 12 months, its largest 12-month increase since the period ending November 2011. The index for car and truck rental more than doubled over the past 12 months, rising 109.8 percent. The shelter index increased 2.2 percent over the last 12 months. The medical care index rose 0.9 percent over the past 12 months, its smallest increase since the period ending March 1941.  

Not seasonally adjusted CPI measures

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 5.0 percent over the last 12 months to an index level of 269.195 (1982-84=100). For the month, the index increased 0.8 percent prior to seasonal adjustment.  

The Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) increased 5.6 percent over the last 12 months to an index level of 263.612 (1982-84=100). For the month, the index rose 0.9 percent prior to seasonal adjustment.  

The Chained Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (C-CPI-U) increased 5.0 percent over the last 12 months. For the month, the index increased 0.8 percent on a not seasonally adjusted basis. Please note that the indexes for the past 10 to 12 months are subject to revision. 

The Consumer Price Index for June 2021 is scheduled to be released on Tuesday, July 13, 2021 at 8:30 a.m. (ET).

12-month percentage change, Consumer Price Index, selected categories, May 2021, not seasonally adjusted
Category12-month percent change, May 2021
All items5.00%
Food2.20%
Food at home0.70%
Cereals and bakery products0.60%
Meats, poultry, fish, and eggs0.10%
Dairy and related products0.10%
Fruits and vegetables2.90%
Nonalcoholic beverages and beverage materials-0.20%
Other food at home0.30%
Food away from home4.00%
Full service meals and snacks4.10%
Limited service meals and snacks6.10%
Energy28.50%
Energy commodities54.50%
Fuel oil50.80%
Gasoline (all types)56.20%
Energy services6.20%
Electricity4.20%
Natural gas (piped)13.50%
All items less food and energy3.80%
Commodities less food and energy commodities6.50%
Apparel5.60%
New vehicles3.30%
Used cars and trucks29.70%
Medical care commodities-1.90%
Alcoholic beverages1.60%
Tobacco and smoking products7.30%
Services less energy services2.90%
Shelter2.20%
Rent of primary residence1.80%
Owners’ equivalent rent of residences2.10%
Medical care services1.50%
Physicians’ services4.20%
Hospital services2.60%
Transportation services11.20%
Motor vehicle maintenance and repair2.80%
Motor vehicle insurance16.90%
Airline fare24.10%