As the U.S. economy slows, so does inflation. 

The Consumer Price Index, a key inflation gauge, rose by just 0.1% in May, representing a slowdown from April's pace of 0.3%, the Labor Department said Wednesday in a statement. The May rate was in line with economists' expectations, based on a survey by FactSet. 

Over the past 12 months, the gauge has climbed 1.8%, also below the 2% increase reported for the year through April. 

In May, energy prices fell by 0.6%, with the gasoline index down 0.5% and indexes for electricity and natural gas also declining, according to the statement from the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

The index of food prices rose by 0.3%. 

Excluding prices for energy and food, which can vary widely from month to month because of swings in global commodities markets, the CPI rose 0.1%, on par with April's increase. But economists surveyed by FactSet had estimated that this "core" inflation rate accelerated 0.2%.

Over the past 12 months, the CPI excluding food and energy is up 2%.   

The U.S. economy is projected to slow to a 2.4% growth rate this year from 2.9% in 2018.

Typically, a slowdown in growth means businesses would have less demand for workers, which in turn implies reduced upward pressure on wages and less consumer spending. That, in turn, results in a slower inflation rate. 

Investors say that the Federal Reserve is likely to cut interest rates this year to stimulate the economy, especially with recent data showing little threat of accelerating inflation.