A few months ago, I argued that housing was messing up inflation measures, in particular the core CPI. With last week’s release of fresh CPI data, I decided to check in to see if that’s still true.
Answer: Yes, but less so. The cost of housing is still rising slower than for other core goods and services, but the gap has narrowed.
In my earlier post, I found that year-over-year core inflation through October was a remarkably low 0.6% and that housing costs (as measured by the CPI for shelter) had fallen 0.4%. As a result, core inflation less shelter was 1.3% — low, but not remarkably so.
We now have data through January: core inflation has picked up a bit to 0.9% over the past 12 months. Shelter costs rose 0.6% over the same period, and core inflation less shelter is 1.2%.
As you can see, the big change is that shelter costs over the past year are now rising, not falling:
Bottom line: Housing costs have dragged the core CPI down over the past year, but not as much as was true a few months ago.
P.S. My earlier post provides details about the BLS measure of shelter prices.