Import prices continue steady decline

The Labor Department's Import Price Index (IPI) declined 0.1% between August and September, leaving average import prices this September 6.5% below their level of the same month in 1997.
By Staff December 1, 1998

The Labor Department’s Import Price Index (IPI) declined 0.1% between August and September, leaving average import prices this September 6.5% below their level of the same month in 1997. This drop was the 11th consecutive monthly decrease recorded in the IPI.

A strong U.S. dollar and flagging global demand for many categories of consumer and industrial goods have pushed import prices steadily lower and led to a surge in imports to the U.S. this year. Petroleum import prices have plunged 32.2% during the past 12 mo, although average prices for imported petroleum moved up slightly in both August and September. Nonpetroleum import prices have shown less volatility than petroleum prices this year, and haven’t recorded a monthly increase since the first half of 1997. Imports, excluding petroleum, were an average of 4.2% less expensive this September than during September 1997.

Products imported from Japan averaged 5.7% less expensive this September than a year ago. European imports fell just 0.4% since September 1997.