Jun 11, 2020 - Economy

Consumer price index falls for third straight month for first time in its history

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. consumer price index fell for the third straight month in May with a gauge of the index that removes volatile food and energy prices also negative for a third month in a row.

Why it matters: The reports fan worries that the coronavirus pandemic could spark deflation, further eroding U.S. growth.

  • It was the first time in the history of the series, which dates back to the 1950s, that the CPI has declined for three straight months.
  • April marked the lowest that the core CPI has ever fallen, touching -0.4%.
  • May's CPI also showed the smallest year-over-year increase since 2011, at 1.2%, and followed another historically small increase in April.

Watch this space: May's CPI was the latest government report to come with a warning. The Labor Department said it was hampered by the coronavirus pandemic, as in-store data collection has been suspended since March 16.

  • The department added that data collection last month was also impacted “by the temporary closing or limited operations of certain types of establishments,” leading to “an increase in the number of prices being considered temporarily unavailable and imputed.”
  • BLS said the same thing in its CPI report last month and noted a “misclassification error” in its highly followed jobs report released last

Go deeper: Why the Fed wants higher inflation

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