The consumer price index jumped 0.3% in April

The consumer price index jumped 0.3% in April, the biggest increase since last summer. (Emmanuel Dunand / AFP/Getty Images / November 7, 2007)

The cost of living climbed in April at the quickest pace since last summer, a sign that the economy may be picking up speed.

The consumer price index rose 0.3% last month, the biggest gain since June, the Labor Department said Thursday. Over the last 12 months, the cost of living has jumped 2%, an uptick from March's 1.5% annual increase.

Driven by dry conditions in California and elsewhere, food prices rose 0.4% last month, the same as the previous two months. Groceries were up 0.4%.

Energy prices also increased by 0.3%, driven in part by a 2.3% jump in gasoline prices. Gas prices have seen a sharp uptick in recent weeks as refineries switch over to producing the more expensive summer blend fuel.

The cost of new vehicles also rose by 0.3%.

Taking out the often-voltatile food and energy costs, prices climbed 0.2% in April. Many major categories -- including shelter and medical care -- posted increases.

Rising inflation could convince the Federal Reserve to continue reducing the central bank's bond-buying stimulus program.