U.S. consumer prices tumbled once again in May as demand fell amid the coronavirus pandemic recession.
The Labor Department said on Wednesday its consumer price index fell 0.1 percent last month after plunging 0.8 percent in April and 0.2 percent in March.
In the 12 months through May, the index gained 0.1 percent, which represented a decline from the 0.3 percent April figure and March’s 1.5 percent.
Economists forecast the CPI unchanged for the month and a 0.2 percent annual increase.
The indexes gauge for food consumed at home rose 1 percent following a 2.6 percent gain in April, as many Americans required to stay home increased their grocery spending and some products experienced temporary shortages. Compared with a year ago, grocery prices are up 4 percent.
Surprisingly, the index for eating out also rose, albiet by a more modest 0.4 percent. Food prices at “limited service” venues were up 0.6 percent, as Americans turned to drive-through and pick-up only outlets, while food at full-service restaurants rose 0.2 percent following a similarly sized decline in April
But these prices gains were more offset by declines in the indexes for motor vehicle insurance, energy, and apparel. The gasoline index declined 3.5 percent in May, leading to a 1.8-percent decline in the energy index.