Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Question: Which index is the "Official Consumer Price Index (CPI)" reported in the media?

Answer: Each month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) releases thousands of detailed CPI numbers to the media. However, the media usually focuses on the broadest, most comprehensive CPI. This is "The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) for the U.S. City Average for All Items, 1982-84=100." These data are reported on either a seasonally adjusted, or not seasonally adjusted, basis. Often, the media will report some, or all, of the following:

  1. the index level (for example, August 1999=167.1)
  2. the 12-month percent change (for example, August 1998 to August 1999=2.3 percent)
  3. the 1-month percent change on a seasonally adjusted basis (for example, from July 1999 to August 1999=0.3 percent)
  4. the annual rate of percent change so far this year (for example, from December 1998 to August 1999 if the rate of increase over the first 8 months of the year continued for the full year, after the removal of seasonal influences, the rise would be 3.1 percent)
  5. the annual rate based on the latest seasonally adjusted 1-month change. For example, if the July 1999 to August 1999 rate continued for a full 12 months, the rise, compounded, would be 3.7 percent


Last Modified Date: June 19, 2008