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Inflation rises by 0.3% for December, 3.4% for 2023


Federal figures include health care services and commodities.

hand putting wooden cube inflation: © Deemerwha studio - stock.adobe.com

© Deemerwha studio - stock.adobe.com

Inflation rose 0.3% in December, capping a year in which prices for all items rose by 3.4% before seasonal adjustment.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Consumer Price Index Summary noted shelter, food and gas prices all rose in December, though generally less than 1%. Not counting food and energy, inflation went up 0.3% for the final month of 2023.

For the year, the all-items index increase of 3.4% was larger than the 3.1% increase for the 12 months ending in November. Removing food and energy, prices went up 3.9% for the 12 months ending in December, slightly less than the 4% increase for the 12 months ending in November. Overall the energy index dipped 2% in 2023 while food increased by 2.7% for the year.

Inflation in medical care

Medical care services overall saw a price increase of 0.7% for December. Sector prices dipped by 0.5% overall from December 2022 to December 2023, according to BLS.

Generally sector prices fluctuated by less than 1% for the month.

Health insurance prices rose by 1.1% for the month. Year-over-year, health insurance showed a drop of 27.1% in prices, one of the largest differences in the report, which did not explain the difference.

Among professional services:

  • Physician services prices rose by 0.2% for the month and dipped by 0.6% for the year.
  • Dental service costs rose by 0.8% monthly, and 5% for the year.
  • Eyeglasses and eye care dropped by 0.2% for the month but rose 2.4% for the year.
  • Services by other medical professionals were flat for the month, rising 1.4% for the year.

Hospital services rose 0.5% for the month and 5.5% for the year. Inpatient hospital services saw a 0.5% monthly increase and a 4.9% annual increase, while outpatient services had a 0.8% monthly increase and a 6.7% yearly rise.

Medical care commodities generally dipped 0.1% for the month, but prices rose by 4.7% for the year. Prescription drug prices edged downward by 0.4% in December and rose 3.3% for the year, while nonprescription drug prices rose 0.1% for the month and 8.3% for the year.

National reactions

The December 2023 report showed inflation was down at its lowest level since May 2021, President Joe Biden said in a statement.

“Despite what many forecasters were predicting a year ago, inflation is down while growth and the job market have remained strong,” the president’s statement said. “The economy has created more than 14 million jobs since I took office, and wealth, wages, and employment are higher now than under my predecessor.”

The president also jabbed at Republicans for locking arms with Big Pharma and Big Oil to stop the administration from lowering prices of prescription drugs and utilities.

“And they still haven’t given up their fight to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. I will not let them,” the president said.

Rep. Jason Smith (R-Missouri), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, countered that prices have risen 17.3% since Biden took office, while real wages and benefits have fallen 3.7%. Inflation has outpaced wages for 26 straight months of Biden’s term, Smith said in a statement.

“Republican economic policies have a track record of providing relief to working families, promoting higher wages and a more dynamic economy, and helping small businesses expand and create jobs,” Smith said. “We need to build on those successes to give working families and small businesses relief from three years of high prices and an economy that doesn’t work for them.”

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