WASHINGTON – Surging gasoline prices pulled U.S. consumer inflation up 0.4 per cent in November.
The Labor Department said Wednesday that prices at the pump increased a sharp 7.3 per cent after falling in October. Excluding volatile food and energy prices, so-called core consumer inflation rose a modest 0.1 per cent in November.
Over the past year, overall consumer inflation is up 2.2 per cent and core inflation is up 1.7 per cent.
Inflation pressures have remained subdued even though the U.S. economy is gathering momentum. Economic growth has clocked in at an annual pace of 3 per cent or better in each of the last two quarters for the first time since 2014. The unemployment rate is at a 17-year low 4.1 per cent. But the tight job market has yet to generate significant wage growth, which would push inflation higher. Many businesses still fear losing customers if they raise prices.
Even though hiring has risen steadily, wage gains have been modest.
The Federal Reserve later Wednesday is expected to announce its third interest rate hike of 2017.
Food prices were flat in November. Housing prices rose 0.2 per cent. Air fares fell 2.4 per cent. Apparel prices fell 1.3 per cent, biggest drop since September 1998.