What happened: Gas prices surged 3.7% in October, but Americans are still paying less to fill up now than they did a year ago. The cost of gas has fallen more than 7% in the past year.
Prices for medical care rose 1%, marking the biggest increase in more than three years. The cost of health care has been on the rise again after a prolong period of stable prices.
The cost of recreation — ticket prices, cable TV and the like — also posted an unusually large increase last month. The 0.7% acceleration was the biggest gain since 1996.
Food prices rose in October, but the cost of eating out is rising much faster than dining in.
The cost of “food at home” — groceries — has climbed just 1% in the past year. Prices for “food away from home” have shot up 3.3%, perhaps reflecting the higher cost of labor. Many states have increased minimum wages.
Prices fell for clothes, household furnishings, new cars and trucks and airline fares. The increase in rent was just 0.1%, the smallest increase since 2011. The cost of rent and housing have eased somewhat this year
After adjusting for inflation, hourly wages fell 0.2%. They have risen a solid 1.2% in the past year, however.
The central bank would like prices to rise a bit higher for the good of the economy, but low inflation allows Americans to stretch their dollars further and buy more goods and services. Strong consumer spending boosted gross domestic product in the spring and summer and is likely to remain robust during the holiday season.