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Energy, food inflate Consumer Price Index
By Benjamin Miraski | Medill News Service
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Published: 4/17/2008 12:06 AM

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Prices continued to climb in March, rising 0.3 percent, according to the Consumer Price Index, released Wednesday by the Labor Department. The core CPI, which excludes food and energy prices, rose 0.2 percent.

The CPI was unchanged in February and up 0.4 percent in January. It measures the average change in prices over time, using a basket of goods most consumers purchase, such as food, energy, transportation, housing, medical costs and clothing.

Adolfo Laurenti, a senior economist with Chicago-based Mesirow Financial Holdings Inc., said consumers should be concerned. While the Federal Reserve has emphasized the core numbers, he said the overall CPI gives a better picture of trends in prices.

"Normal people buy energy, buy gas, buy food, and you have to acknowledge that those numbers are higher, and you have to come to terms with it," Laurenti said.

Prices in the Chicago area rose 4.5 percent since March 2007, according to the Labor Department.