Consumer Indexes Fell in September; the Good News for Consumers Resulted from Fuel Costs Falling 13.5 Percent Last Month

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Byline: MARK BASCH

Falling gasoline prices helped send overall consumer prices down last month, according to national and local indexes released Wednesday.

The U.S. Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers, the nation's most closely-watched inflation gauge, dropped 0.5 percent in September, the Labor Department said. Overall energy prices fell 7.2 percent and gasoline prices dropped 13.5 percent last month.

Locally, the Consumer Price Index for the Jacksonville area compiled by the University of North Florida's Local Economic Indicators Project fell by a seasonally-adjusted 0.25 points last month to 103.90. That continued a trend of deflation in the Jacksonville area, as the local CPI has declined at a 0.36 percent annual rate through the first nine months of the year.

Gasoline prices fell 12.1 percent locally in September, according to the LEIP. But consumers were helped even more by a 5.1 percent decline in owners' primary residence expense. Because the cost of shelter is the largest component of the CPI, the decline in residence expenses had the biggest impact on the index. Excluding shelter costs, prices were virtually unchanged in the month, LEIP said. …