On the heels of several months of positive economic news for the First Coast, May’s Consumer Price Index showed signs of strength as well.
The measure of the price of goods in the area increased in May, jumping form 123.41 in April to 125.13 after seasonal adjustments, according to Albert Loh, chairman of the economics department at University of North Florida. Core inflation was up by 1.39 percent in May and non-core inflation — meaning the cost of items such as energy and food — was up by 4.39 percent.
It’s the second month in a row that the CPI showed signs of strengthening as April’s figure was an increase from the March CPI of 120.39.
The CPI is a measure of the average change over time in the prices paid by consumers for a market basket of consumer goods and services. UNF’s first CPI figures were collected in December 2001, when the rate was 100. The monthly CPI number is the comparison to that rate.
Loh said the strong CPI showing in May is largely due to housing prices continuing to increase. But other factors are boosting the economy as well.
Loh listed these factors as having positive impacts on the CPI:
• Food prices at restaurants and away from home increased 6.2 percent.
• Residential rent prices went up by 5.1 percent.
• The cost of fuel and oil increased 12.9 percent.
• Automotive repairs and maintenance costs jumped 6.3 percent.
• Auto insurance increased 8 percent.
• Home insurance increased 5.7 percent.
• And educational books and supplies increased 9.1 percent.
“While the rising housing index continues to play a key role, prices in many other goods and services are also up, likely reflecting rising demand for goods and services as the economy strengthens,” Loh said.
One significant cost that saw a decrease in the First Coast area for May was the price of motor vehicle fees such as costs for licenses and similar charges dropped 4.5 percent.