WASHINGTON — U.S. consumer prices rose 0.3% in July, pushed higher by more expensive gas, medical care and housing.
The consumer price index increased 1.8% compared with a year earlier, up from 1.6% in June, the Labor Department said Tuesday. Excluding the volatile food and energy categories, core prices moved up 0.3% in July and 2.2% from a year ago.
The figures suggest that inflation is picking up slightly, though it remains modest. The economy is in its 11th year of growth, unemployment is low, and wages are growing modestly. These are trends that typically accelerate price gains. But many companies are reluctant to charge more in the face of online and global competition.
While last month’s price gains were modest, they were widespread. Clothing prices increased 0.4%, used car and truck prices moved up 0.9%, and prescription drug costs rose 0.4%. Airline fares jumped 2.3%.
Rents rose 0.3% and are up 3.5% in the past year. Hotel stays have gotten 4.6% more expensive in the past year.