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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 2.3 percent nationwide from December ’18 to December ’19, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Core inflation (all items less the volatile food and energy categories) also increased 2.3 percent since December ’18. 
The cost of energy rose 3.4 percent from the previous December. Motor fuel prices increased 7.6 percent. Natural gas prices decreased 3.5 percent, and electricity costs decreased 0.4 percent. The shelter index rose 3.2 percent from December ’18. Food prices went up 1.8 percent, with the cost of dining out increasing 3.1 percent and grocery prices increasing marginally by 0.7 percent.
Consumer prices in the Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land metro area increased 1.0 percent from December ’18 to December ’19. Core inflation, all items less food and energy, advanced 1.8 percent. The greatest contributor to the 12-month change was a 2.9 percent rise in the cost of shelter.
In the 12 months ending December ’19, the energy index fell 7.2 percent. Lower household energy costs led to the decline, with electricity costs falling 19.2 percent and natural gas prices decreasing 2.6 percent. In contrast, motor fuel costs increased 5.3 percent.
Food prices rose 1.3 percent during the previous 12 months. The cost of dining out grew 2.9 percent while grocery prices went down 0.4 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 fell 7.2% since last December