U.S. Inflation Just 1.5 Percent in 2013

The cost of living in the United States advanced last month, but for all of 2013 increased just 1.5 percent.

The government's Labor Department said Thursday that consumer prices climbed by three-tenths of a percent in December, the most in six months, as the cost of gasoline for motorists and apartment rents increased.

The increased inflation for 2013 was at its weakest level in three years. The 1.5 percent figure is less than the two percent target set by policy makers at the Federal Reserve, the country's powerful central bank. The Fed has said it is watching the figure to keep it from dropping too low.

Inflation has been held back in recent years by sluggish economic growth and high unemployment, making it difficult for retailers and other businesses to increase prices.

The country's jobless rate has steadily fallen to 6.7 percent. But much of the decrease has occurred because long-term unemployed workers have abandoned their search for a new job and thus are not counted in the country's calculation of the jobless figure.

The Federal Reserve and private economists in the United States are predicting that the world's largest economy will advance by three percent or more this year, a faster pace than in 2013.

VOA News / Jan. 17, 2014 08:16 KST