Consumer price index creeps up in March

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Consumer prices rose .9 percent in March, according to information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The increase is largely due to higher prices for gas and clothing, said Commissioner Stanley Suchman in the press release announcing the figures.

During the last 12 months, the consumer price index increased 2.4 percent, but year-over-year increases have slowed for the past six months since recording a rate of 3.5 percent in September 2011.

Food prices edged up .2 percent for the month of March. Prices for both food at home and food away from home increased .2 percent for the same period.

During the year, food prices advanced 2.8 percent. Prices for food at home advanced 2.5 percent since a year ago, and prices for food away from home rose 3.3 percent.

The energy index advanced 6.5 percent during the month. The increase was mainly due to higher prices for gasoline, which increased 10.7 percent. Prices for electricity edged up .2 percent, while prices for natural gas service decreased 2.3 percent in March.

Energy prices increased 6.0 percent over the year, largely due to higher prices for gasoline (9.9 percent). Prices paid for electricity increased 0.4 percent, while prices for natural gas service declined 4.9 percent during the past year.

The index for all items minus food and energy increased .4 percent in March. Components contributing to the increase included apparel (2.9 percent), new and used motor vehicles (.8 percent), and shelter (.2 percent).

During the year, the index for all items less food and energy rose 1.9 percent. Components contributing to the increase included apparel (4.0 percent), medical care (3.1 percent), education and communication (2.2 percent), and shelter (2.1 percent).