WASHINGTON — The cost of living rose again in March even as the price of gasoline leveled off, the U.S. government reported Friday.
The consumer price index climbed 0.3% last month as the cost of most goods and services rose, the Labor Department said. The increase outstripped the rise in wages.
Economists surveyed by MarketWatch expected a 0.2% increase in the cost of living.
Prices rose for a wide variety of goods. Energy costs, for example, climbed 0.9% last month, though that was far smaller than February's 3.2% increase as gas prices eased. A retreat in the price of oil from recent highs should offer a bit of additional relief to consumers, at least temporarily.
Natural-gas prices rose for the first time in five months, but electricity costs dropped.
The cost of food rose 0.2% last month after being unchanged in February. Meat, poultry, fish and eggs posted the biggest increases. Yet fruit and vegetable prices fell, as did the cost of dairy and baked goods.