WASHINGTON - Wholesale prices rose last month, but outside of volatile food and energy costs inflation remained tame.
The Producer Price Index rose 0.4 percent in August after increasing 0.2 percent in July, the Labor Department said Thursday. The index measures price changes on products before they reach the consumer.
But excluding food and energy costs, so-called "core" producer prices were relatively flat. They rose just 0.1 percent and are up 1.3 percent in the past year.
The weak economy has stifled demand at every stage of the production chain. That makes it tough for producers to raise the prices they charge to retailers.
Meanwhile, applications for U.S. unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week to the lowest level in two months, a sign the labor market is improving.
Initial jobless claims dropped by 3,000 to 450,000 in the week ended Sept. 11, the Labor Department said.