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The cost of consumer goods and services as measured by the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) rose 4.2 percent nationwide from April ’20 to April ’21, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Largely driven by a hike in energy prices, the rise in inflation is the highest since September ’08 when prices rose 4.9 percent. Energy costs rose 25.1 percent from the previous April, largely due to a 48.9 percent increase in the cost of motor fuel. The cost of electricity rose 3.6 percent and natural gas by 12.1 percent. Core inflation (all items less the volatile food and energy categories) increased 3.0 percent since April ’20.
The shelter index grew 2.1 percent from April of last year. In that same period, overall food prices increased 2.4 percent, grocery prices 1.2 percent, and the cost of dining out 3.8 percent.
The consumer price index for April ’20 showed gains in every category, demonstrating that increased consumption is translating into higher prices. Price gains were twice as high as economists predicted, according to a survey of Bloomberg economists. Bloomberg reports that “forecasters are struggling to get a handle on the rapidly reopening economy.” In the wake of the $1.9 trillion stimulus package, prices are likely to remain elevated as pent-up demand and savings accumulated over the pandemic lead to increased spending.
Consumer prices in the Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land metro area rose 4.5 percent from February ’20 to February ’21. The rise in inflation is the highest in the region since August ’08, when prices rose 4.9 percent.
Core inflation, all items less food and energy increased 2.8 percent. The shelter index grew 0.5 percent. Local food prices climbed 2.8 percent over the past 12 months. The cost of dining out increased 3.8 percent, while grocery prices rose 1.9 percent.
The local energy index surged 32.9 percent since April ’20, boosted by a 53.6 percent increase in motor fuel prices. Electricity prices jumped 17.0 percent, while natural gas rose 9.1 percent.
 CPI data in this commentary are not seasonally adjusted.
 Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Montgomery and Waller Counties.
Elizabeth Balderrama, PCED
Patrick Jankowski, CERP
Senior Vice President, Research
Houston's energy index grew 32.9 percent since last April
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