The overall consumer price index increased by 1.7% over the 12 months ending in September. For September only, prices rose by just 0.1 percent. Interestingly, the same increases are true when food and energy price changes are excluded from the calculation.
But even though overall prices rose by 1.7% over the past year, some categories rose much more and some categories even fell. The table below summarizes some of the categories where prices changed significantly over the past year, along with some categories that tend to be important to college students. The third column in the table shows the relative weight assigned to the given category in the calculation of the CPI. This value indicates the portion of a typical consumer's monthly expenditures allocated to that category.
- Ground beef prices rose 17.2% in the past year. No wonder so many are turning into vegetarians.
- Gasoline prices continue to fall, dropping 3.6% in the past year. I mentioned this on Twitter last week, citing a Wall Street Journal article.
- Textbook prices rose 5.1% and college tuition and fees are up 3.4%
- Women's outerwear prices rose by 11.3% but men's suits and coats prices increased by just 2%