Food, housing costs rise sharply in March; overall inflation low

Food prices increased in March, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Tuesday. Above, Jerry Haines, general manager of R.C. Provision in Burbank, holds pastrami that's ready for shipping. The company, which supplies Pink's, Langer's Delicatessen and other eateries, is struggling as beef prices have hit a record high in the U.S.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Food and housing costs rose sharply in March, but overall inflation remained low, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Tuesday.

The federal government’s consumer price index rose 0.2% in March, a measurement that shows average price changes in goods and services purchased by Americans. In the last 12 months, overall core inflation -- excluding the volatile food and energy indexes -- rose 1.7%.

Recent drought and other extreme weather patterns have driven up the price of beef to all-time highs and that was reflected in the government’s food index, which rose 0.4% in March, following an identical increase the month before.


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It showed much steeper increases in certain food categories. The index for poultry, meats and eggs, for instance, showed a second consecutive increase of 1.2% last month.

The energy index, which includes gas prices, declined in March, falling 0.1%, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said.

The rental index showed an uptick of 0.3% in March, signaling higher rent prices. Over the last 12 months, the shelter index has increased 2.7%.


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