Consumer Price Index Indicates Historic Increase in Fuel Oil Prices

Shaun H. Ruff


The cost of fuel oil has increased by 106.7 percent since November 2021, according to the Consumer Price Index for May, released today by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Since November 2021, the cost of oil has more than doubled, and it’s the largest increase in the cost since the CPI began in 1935.

Overall, the consumer price index for all urban consumers increased a full 1.0% in May, seasonally adjusted. The increase in April was .03%.

Consumer Price Index for May 2022

Over the last 12 months, the all-items index increased 8.6 percent before seasonal adjustment.

The increase was broad-based, with the indexes for shelter, gasoline, and food being the largest contributors. After declining in April, the energy index rose 3.9 percent over the month with the gasoline index rising 4.1 percent and the other major component indexes also increasing. The food index rose 1.2 percent in May as the food at home index increased 1.4 percent.

The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.6 percent in May, the same increase as in April. While almost all major components increased over the month, the largest contributors were the indexes for shelter, airline fares, used cars and trucks, and new vehicles. The indexes for medical care, household furnishings and operations, recreation, and apparel also increased in May.

The all-items index increased 8.6 percent for the 12 months ending May, the largest 12-month increase since the period ending December 1981.

Historic Rise in Fuel Prices

In addition to the fuel oil increase, other energy costs also rose, including utility (piped) gas service, up 30.2% and electricity cost, up 12.0%.Gasoline prices have increased by 48.7%.

Food Prices Increase

Food (at home) costs have increased 10.1%, including 1.2% in May 2022. That’s the largest percentage increase since 1980. Food away costs have increased 11.9%, including 1.4% in May 2022. That’s the largest percentage increase since 1981.

Breakdown of Food Prices for Restaurants

Overall, the food index increased 1.2 percent in May following a 0.9-percent increase the prior month.

The index for food away from home rose 7.4 percent over the last year, the largest 12-month change since the period ending November 1981. The index for full service meals rose 9.0 percent over the last 12 months, and the index for limited service meals rose 7.3 percent over the last year. The index for food at employee sites and schools fell 30.5 percent over the last 12 months, reflecting widespread free lunch programs.

Increases Not Including Food and Energy

The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.6 percent in May.

The shelter index increased 0.6 percent in May, the largest monthly increase since March 2004. The rent index rose 0.6 percent over the month, the same increase as in April, and the owners’ equivalent rent index also rose 0.6 percent. The index for lodging away from home rose 0.9 percent in May after larger increases in recent months.

The index for airline fares continued to rise, increasing 12.6 percent in May after rising 18.6 percent the prior month.

The index for used cars and trucks rose 1.8 percent in May after declining in each of the 3 prior months. The index for used cars and trucks has risen 16.1% since November 2021.

The index for new vehicles rose in May, increasing 1.0 percent after rising 1.1 percent in April. The index for new vehicles has increased by 12.6% since November 2021.

What Does the CPI Mean?

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics measures prices that consumers pay for a figurative “basket” of goods and services. The resulting numerical data can be used to measure the cost of living, and the degree of inflation (or deflation). Changes are expressed in percentages and are indicative of economic health.

Brief Explanation of the CPI

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) measures the change in prices paid by consumers for goods and services. The CPI reflects spending patterns for each of two population groups: all urban consumers and urban wage earners and clerical workers. The all-urban consumer group represents about 93 percent of the total U.S. population. It is based on the expenditures of almost all residents of urban or metropolitan areas, including professionals, the self-employed, the poor, the unemployed, and retired people, as well as urban wage earners and clerical workers. Not included in the CPI are the spending patterns of people living in rural nonmetropolitan areas, farming families, people in the Armed Forces, and those in institutions, such as prisons and mental hospitals.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics tabulates increases and decreases in 8 major categories: food and beverage, housing, apparel, transportation, medical care, recreation, education and communication.

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Image: Depositphotos


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