Import and Export Prices Point to Small Gains in 2013 Social Security Benefits

Tuesday, 12 Jun 2012 09:27 AM

By Michael Carr

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In another sign that the global economy is slowing, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that prices fell for both imports and exports in May.

Based on the data, CNBC reported that inflation is taking a holiday. This could be true and weakness may continue through the summer. That could be bad news for those receiving Social Security benefits since the annual increase in those benefits is determined by price gains over the summer months.

Import prices fell by 1.0 percent in May, which the Bureau said is the largest one-month drop since the index of import prices declined 1.2 percent in June 2010. In another sign that the global economy is softening, prices for imports also fell when compared to prices a year ago. Over the past 12 months, import prices fell by 0.3 percent, the first year-over-year decline for the index since import prices fell 5.6 percent between October 2008 and October 2009.

Fuel prices fell by 4.2 percent in May, which accounted for most of the drop. However, prices for nonfuel imports were down 0.1 percent in May, the first monthly decline in six months.

Export prices fell 0.4 percent in May after increasing 2.0 percent over the first four months of the year. Economists noted that the May decline was driven by lower prices for nonagricultural exports, another sign of weak demand in the world.

Prices for exports were also down for the year. Overall export prices edged down 0.1 percent between May 2011 and May 2012, the first time this index declined on an annual basis since a 3.6 percent decrease was reported for the year ended October 2009.

This is another piece of data that points to a global economy that is struggling to grow even if inflation will be constrained.

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