NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- A key index of consumer prices fell in May, but it was up 2% over the past 12 months, the government said Thursday.
The Consumer Price Index, the Labor Department's key measure of inflation, fell by 0.2% in May on a monthly basis. Economists surveyed by Briefing.com expected a 0.1% drop.
The government report attributed most of the month-to-month decline to the energy index, which fell by 2.9% in May. The gasoline index fell by 5.2% in May, and was down 27% over the year.
"Up to this point, the U.S. economy has been the beneficiary of an 'inflation-less' recovery," said Jim Baird, partner and chief investment strategist for Plante Moran Financial Advisors, in a research note.
"While [some] point to the risk of inflation down the road," he added, "there is still sufficient slack in the economy to keep price levels from moving higher."
Core CPI and inflation: The closely watched core CPI, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, ticked up by 0.1% in May after being unchanged in April. That matched economists' expectations.
It was only the second monthly increase in core CPI so far this year. The rate is down by 0.9% over the previous 12 months.
"The core inflation rate remains uncomfortably low," Baird said. "The economy may be expanding, but at a pace that isn't inspiring."
The core rate is a gauge of inflation. Experts say concerns are sparked only when core CPI rises consistently by 0.2% or more each month.
The IRS is in damage control mode Tuesday after an audit revealed that it paid bonuses to employees who were in trouble over tax issues themselves. More
Upstart Aereo goes before Supreme Court justices in challenge by broadcasters who say TV streaming services violates copyrights. More
Student loan borrowers are suddenly being thrown into default when the co-signer on their loan -- often a parent or grandparent -- dies or files for bankruptcy. More