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November inflation report shows prices remain up from a year ago

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Medical care posts monthly decline, along with energy, used cars and trucks, and airfare.

Consumer prices flattened out a bit in November from the month before, but increased 7.1% over the last 12 months.

In the latest inflation report, health care prices posted the second straight month of decreases, but prices were inching upward in previous months and were up 4.2% in the 12 months from November 2021.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics announced the November 2022 Consumer Price Index Summary with a few bright spots for consumers:

  • The energy index decreased 1.6% month to month as gasoline, natural gas, and electricity all declined.
  • The 7.1% year-on-year increase was the smallest 12-month increase since the period ending December 2021.
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  • Indexes for used cars and trucks, medical care, and airline fares all declined in November.
  • Price increases for food, energy, and other items all were smaller than for the period ending in October.

Prices up

But many consumer prices still remain higher than the month and the year before, according to the Dec. 13 report.

Overall, all items without food and energy were up 6% over the last year, although that index rose by just 0.2% in November, after rising 0.3% in October. Even with a monthly decline, the energy index was up 13.1% for the 12 months ending in November, and food prices have increased 10.6% over the last year.

Indexes for shelter, communication, recreation, motor vehicle insurance, education, and apparel all increased over the month.

Medical care had the second straight month of price drops: 0.5% in November, following a decrease of 0.5% in October. Hospital and related services showed a monthly price drop of 0.3%, while prescription drug prices declined by 0.2% and the index for physicians’ services was unchanged in November.

Even so, medical care prices crept up from May to September this year, and as of November, medical care prices were up 4.2% over the last year.

The president responds

In his published comments on the report, President Joe Biden cited gas prices and a health care-related example to point out potential good news for consumers.

Starting in January, seniors with diabetes on Medicare will pay no more than $35 a month for insulin prescriptions, down from as much as $400 a month. “That’s a genuine savings for seniors,” the president said.

Biden declined to predict exactly when prices “would get back to normal.”

“I hope by the end of the next year we’re much closer, but I can’t make that prediction,” the president said. “I just – I’m convinced they’re not going to go up. I’m convinced they’re going to continue to go down.”


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