Headlines say there’s no inflation, but look at what’s getting more expensive


Spencer Platt | Getty Images
People shop along Broadway in Manhattan on January 26, 2018 in New York City.

U.S. consumer prices were unchanged in January on the headline level, but looking under the hood, some of the most basic consumption including rent, food and medical care are all getting more expensive.

“Please stop telling me there is no inflation,” Peter Boockvar, chief investment officer at Bleakley Advisory Group, said in a note Wednesday after the consumer price index report. He pointed out that services inflation excluding energy has grown persistently with a 0.2 percent increase month over month and 2.8 percent rise year over year.

The headline figure saw no change in January largely because cheaper gasoline offset the increases in other areas. Gasoline prices fell 5.5 percent last month after dropping 5.8 percent in December.

On the surface, the headline CPI number is showing that inflation is contained. But the core rate of inflation, which doesn’t consider energy and food prices because they fluctuate easily, has risen 0.2 percent for each of the past five months.

Another price increase that is essential to the average family is tuition. In January, college tuition and fees were higher by 2.9 percent on a year-over-year basis, while elementary and high school tuition was up by 4.4 percent.

— CNBC’s John Schoen contributed to this report.

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