Consumers paid more for food, gas and rent last month, but outside those categories inflation remained tame.
The Labor Department says the Consumer Price Index rose 0.5 percent in March. That matched February's increase, the largest since the recession ended in June 2009. In the past 12 months, the index has increased 2.7 percent, the biggest rise since December 2009.
Outside volatile food and gas, the so-called core index rose 0.1 percent. Economists monitor core prices to get a sense of broader inflation trends.
In the past 12 months, core prices rose 1.2 percent, up from the 0.6 percent pace recorded last October. Still, the March increase is well below the 10-year average of 1.9 percent.