What To Do if Your CPI Is Dropped From Publication
The Consumer Price Index is periodically revised to improve its performance as a measure of price
change. With release of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) data for January 1998, the CPI will
reflect the population distribution from the 1990 (instead of 1980) Census. This improves the CPI
because the samples it is based upon will better reflect where people now live and shop.
The CPI will also update the expenditure weights used in its market basket to represent 1993-95
(instead of 1982-84) spending patterns. New expenditure weights improve the CPI because
consumers change their purchasing patterns in response to many long-term factors. Without
updates the index would overweight many now infrequently purchased items, such as domestic
service and phonograph records, and underweight many newly important items, such as day care
and computer software. In addition, for the first time, the CPI will use estimates of index variances
as a guideline for determining which data series get published.
Because of these changes, publication of some indexes for certain item categories and geographic
areas will be discontinued. Parties to contracts which call for the use of CPI indexes that are no
longer published will need to select a replacement index. The Bureau of Labor Statistics cannot
mediate or arbitrate legal disputes relating to contracts which use the CPI. However, the Bureau
may provide technical and statistical information which contracting parties could use to develop
escalation procedures. The suggestions in this guide are alternatives that contracting parties may
wish to consider.
Changes in availability of published indexes
The U.S. City Average CPI for All Items on the 1982-84 base will remain in place after revised
indexes are issued with the release of January 1998 data. Changes in publication policy, however,
may affect escalation contracts tied to local area indexes or specific index components.
Beginning in January 1998, three basic changes occur to the published indexes. First, some area
indexes will be deleted or modified. For example, B- and C- sized cities which were formerly
represented by separate indexes have now been combined to form one new index for B/C-sized
cities. Second, some area indexes are published on a dif-ferent schedule; for example, the index for
St. Louis will change from bi-monthly to semi-annual publication. Finally, some index components
will changefor example, the entertainment group will be replaced by a recreation group, which
includes items not previously included in the entertainment group.
What if the geographic area I need is no longer published?
Contracts tied to an index for an area that will no longer be published may wish to use an index for
a larger geographic area that includes the original area. For example, users of the index for B-sized
cities in the Northeast may wish to switch to the index for B/C-sized cities in the Northeast. Users
may also wish to switch to the CPI for all cities in the Northeast, or to the U.S. City Average CPI.
What if the month I need is no longer published?
Users with contracts tied to a specific month's index that will no longer be published may also wish
to switch to an index for a larger geographic area. For example, when the CPI for Pittsburgh, PA
changes from bimonthly to semiannual publication, there will no longer be a Pittsburgh CPI for
February. Users of the Pittsburgh CPI for February may wish to switch to the February CPI for all
cities in the Northeast region, or to the U.S. City Average CPI.
Users of the CPI for specific months may also wish to use the CPI for a different interval that
includes the months of the original escalation clause. If a contract calls for an adjustment based on
the February 1997 to February 1998 change in the CPI for Pittsburgh, users may instead wish to
use the change from the first half of 1997 to the first half of 1998.
The BLS strongly urges users to consider using the national or regional CPI's, rather than the CPI's
for specific local areas. The national and regional CPI's have larger sample sizes than the local
areas and are therefore more stable and subject to smaller sampling errors.
What if the item category I need is no longer published?
Users with contracts tied to an index for a specific item category may wish to switch to an
aggregate item category. For example, with the discontinuation of the index for new cars,
alternatives could include using the index for new vehicles (which includes both new cars and new
trucks). Similarly, users may wish to switch to an even broader item category such as transportation
or even all items.
For more information
A complete description of changes to the published CPI can be found in "Publication strategy for
the 1998 revised Consumer Price Index," Monthly Labor Review, December 1996, pages
26-30. This article can also be found at http://www.bls.gov/cpi/ on the CPI homepage
on the Internet. Bureau staff are also available to provide technical information on the changes to
the published CPI. BLS staff cannot, however, interpret contracts or provide legal advice to
Explanations of the CPI are available on the World Wide Web at
http://www.bls.gov/cpi/ or from any of the following regional offices listed below. To
request CPI data or technical summaries via fax-on-demand, call any of the nine numbers listed
below and select option 1 to receive a Ready Facts catalog of available documents that can be sent
Alternatives to consider when replacing CPI components no longer published |
|If the geographic area called for in a contract is
no longer published, consider using:
- a CPI for a larger geographic area; or
- the U.S. City Average CPI
|For example, if a contract calls for using the CPI
for a B-sized city in the West, consider using:
- the CPI for B/C sized cities in the West;
- the CPI for all cities in the West; or
- the U.S. City Average CPI
|If the time period called for in a contract is no
longer published, consider using:
- a larger geographic area for which the
needed time period is available; or
- a longer time period that includes the
origi- nal time period
|For example, if a contract calls for using the St.
Louis CPI from March 1997 to March 1998,
- the CPI for the Midwest region from
March 1997 to March 1998; or
- the St. Louis CPI from the first half of
|If the item category called for in a contract is no
longer published, consider using:
- an aggregate item category; or
- a similar commodity group
|For example, if a contract calls for use of the
CPI for women's suits, consider using:
- the CPI for apparel; or
- the CPI for women's suits and separates
Last Modified Date: October 16, 2001