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CONSUMER PRICE INDEX – SEPTEMBER 2014
The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.1
percent in September on a seasonally adjusted basis, the U.S. Bureau of
Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, the all items
index increased 1.7 percent before seasonal adjustment.
Increases in shelter and food indexes outweighed declines in energy indexes
to result in the seasonally adjusted all items increase. The food index
rose 0.3 percent as five of the six major grocery store food group indexes
increased. The energy index declined 0.7 percent as the indexes for
gasoline, electricity, and fuel oil all fell.
The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.1 percent in
September. Along with the shelter index, the index for medical care increased,
and the indexes for alcoholic beverages and for personal care advanced
slightly. Several indexes were unchanged, and the indexes for airline fares
and for used cars and trucks declined in September.
The all items index increased 1.7 percent over the last 12 months, the same
increase as for the 12 months ending August. The 12-month change in the index
for all items less food and energy also remained at 1.7 percent. The 12-month
change in the shelter index has been gradually increasing, and reached 3.0
percent for the first time since January 2008. The food index has also risen
3.0 percent over the span, while the energy index has declined 0.6 percent.
Table A. Percent changes in CPI for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U): U.S. city
Seasonally adjusted changes from
Mar. Apr. May June July Aug. Sep. ended
2014 2014 2014 2014 2014 2014 2014 Sep.
All items.................. .2 .3 .4 .3 .1 -.2 .1 1.7
Food...................... .4 .4 .5 .1 .4 .2 .3 3.0
Food at home............. .5 .4 .7 .0 .4 .2 .3 3.2
Food away from home (1).. .3 .3 .2 .2 .3 .2 .3 2.7
Energy.................... -.1 .3 .9 1.6 -.3 -2.6 -.7 -.6
Energy commodities....... -2.0 1.9 .6 3.0 -.3 -3.9 -1.1 -3.3
Gasoline (all types).... -1.7 2.3 .7 3.3 -.3 -4.1 -1.0 -3.6
Fuel oil (1)............ -2.9 -3.0 -1.4 -1.7 -.7 -1.2 -2.1 -3.2
Energy services.......... 2.6 -1.9 1.4 -.4 -.4 -.6 -.2 3.5
Electricity............. 1.1 -2.6 2.3 .2 -.3 .1 -.7 2.8
Utility (piped) gas
service.............. 7.5 .3 -1.7 -2.6 -.4 -2.8 1.6 5.8
All items less food and
energy................. .2 .2 .3 .1 .1 .0 .1 1.7
Commodities less food and
energy commodities.... .0 .1 .1 .1 .0 -.1 .0 -.3
New vehicles............ .0 .3 .2 -.3 .3 .2 .0 .3
Used cars and trucks.... .4 .5 -.1 -.4 -.3 -.3 -.1 -.4
Apparel................. .3 .0 .3 .5 .2 -.2 .0 .5
Medical care commodities -.3 .3 .5 .7 .3 -.1 .5 2.9
Services less energy
services.............. .3 .3 .3 .1 .1 .0 .2 2.4
Shelter................. .3 .2 .3 .2 .3 .2 .3 3.0
Transportation services .2 .7 1.0 .1 -.7 -.6 .1 1.4
Medical care services... .3 .3 .3 .0 .1 .0 .1 1.7
1 Not seasonally adjusted.
Consumer Price Index Data for September 2014
The food index rose 0.3 percent in September after increasing 0.2 percent in
August. The index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs continued to rise,
increasing 0.7 percent after a 1.5 percent increase in August. The index for
beef and veal rose 2.0 percent in September and has now risen 16.7 percent
since January. The index for dairy and related products increased 0.5 percent,
its tenth increase in the last 11 months. The index for other food at home also
rose 0.5 percent in September, with the index for sugar and sweets increasing
1.6 percent. The index for nonalcoholic beverages, which declined 0.2 percent
in August, rose 0.2 percent in September. The fruits and vegetables index also
turned up in September, rising 0.1 percent after declining in August. The index
for fresh fruits rose 1.3 percent, while the fresh vegetables index fell 1.1
percent. The cereals and bakery products index declined in September, falling
0.4 percent. The food at home index has risen 3.2 percent over the past year.
The index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs has increased 9.4 percent over
that span, with the index for beef and veal up 17.8 percent and the pork index
up 11.4 percent. The fruits and vegetables index has increased only 0.9 percent
over the last 12 months, the index for nonalcoholic beverages has risen 0.2
percent, and the cereals and bakery products index has declined slightly,
falling 0.1 percent. The index for food away from home rose 0.3 percent in
September and has increased 2.7 percent over the last 12 months.
The energy index fell 0.7 percent in September, its third consecutive decline.
The gasoline index, which declined 4.1 percent in August, fell 1.0 percent in
September. (Before seasonal adjustment, gasoline prices fell 2.1 percent in
September.) The electricity index also declined in September, falling 0.7
percent after rising slightly in August. The fuel oil index decreased as well,
falling 2.1 percent. In contrast to these declines, the index for natural gas
turned up in September, rising 1.6 percent after falling in each of the 4
previous months. The energy index has fallen 0.6 percent over the last 12 months,
with its components mixed. The natural gas index has risen 5.8 percent over the
span and the electricity index has increased 2.8 percent. However, the gasoline
index has declined 3.6 percent and the fuel oil index has fallen 3.2 percent.
All items less food and energy
The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.1 percent in September after
being unchanged in August. The shelter index accounted for most of the increase,
rising 0.3 percent in September. The rent index increased 0.3 percent and the
index for owners’ equivalent rent rose 0.2 percent. The medical care index also
advanced in September, increasing 0.2 percent. Within the medical care component,
the index for medical care commodities rose 0.5 percent, with the nonprescription
drugs index increasing 1.5 percent. The index for medical care services rose 0.1
percent, with the index for hospital services advancing 0.3 percent. The indexes
for alcoholic beverages and for personal care both rose 0.1 percent in September.
Several indexes were unchanged in September, including those for new vehicles,
apparel, recreation, and household furnishings and operations. The index for
airline fares continued to decline in September, falling 0.5 percent, and the
indexes for used cars and trucks and for tobacco both fell 0.1 percent.
The index for all items less food and energy has risen 1.7 percent over the last
12 months. The shelter index has risen 3.0 percent and the index for medical care
has increased 2.0 percent. Indexes that have declined over the last year include
airline fares (down 3.0 percent), household furnishings and operations (down 1.4
percent) and used cars and trucks (down 0.4 percent).
Not seasonally adjusted CPI measures
The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 1.7 percent
over the last 12 months to an index level of 238.031 (1982-84=100). For the month,
the index rose 0.1 percent prior to seasonal adjustment.
The Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W)
increased 1.6 percent over the last 12 months to an index level of 234.170
(1982-84=100). For the month, the index rose 0.1 percent prior to seasonal
The Chained Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (C-CPI-U) increased 1.5
percent over the last 12 months. For the month, the index rose 0.1 percent on a not
seasonally adjusted basis. Please note that the indexes for the post-2012 period
are subject to revision.
The Consumer Price Index for October 2014 is scheduled to be released on Thursday,
November 20, 2014, at 8:30 a.m. (EST).
Chained Consumer Price Index to be Revised Quarterly
Effective with the release of CPI data for January 2015 on February 26, 2015, the
Bureau of Labor Statistics will begin quarterly revisions of the Chained Consumer
Price Index for All Urban Consumers (C-CPI-U). In addition, a Constant
Elasticity of Substitution (CES) formula will replace the geometric mean formula
for the calculation of Initial and Interim C-CPI-U indexes.
More frequent weight updates and index revisions. Whereas CPI-U and CPI-W indexes
are considered final when released, the final C-CPI-U index is published with a
lag for administration and processing of Consumer Expenditure Survey household
data, the source of the final C-CPI-U monthly expenditure weights. Under the
traditional annual revision process, the final C-CPI-U index was published 13 to 24
months after the CPI-U. The CPI program is implementing a new estimation system
that calculates monthly expenditure weights and revised C-CPI-U indexes on a
quarterly basis. Under the new quarterly process, the final C-CPI-U index will lag
the CPI-U index by 10 to 12 months.
Final C-CPI-U indexes for 2014 will be published on the following quarterly schedule:
Index Month Release Month
January 2013 – March 2014 February 2015
April – June 2014 May 2015
July – September 2014 August 2015
October – December 2014 November 2015
Initial C-CPI-U indexes will continue to be released concurrent with the CPI-U
release, and will be updated as interim C-CPI-U indexes with every quarterly
revision until the final version is published.
New formula for initial and interim C-CPI-U Indexes. The CES formula will replace
the geometric mean formula for initial and interim C-CPI-U indexes effective with
the February 26, 2015 release. The CES formula is an improvement over the geometric
mean formula because the CES formula more closely models consumer substitution
With the use of the geometric mean formula, consumers are assumed to consistently
substitute within item classification to goods whose prices are falling relative to
others. Using a fixed quantity formula, such as a Laspeyres formula, consumers are
assumed to make no substitutions between goods when faced with relative price
change. In reality, consumers respond to relative price changes differently than
either model implies. The CES formula attempts to capture the amount of substitution
occurring in the marketplace as consumers respond to changing relative prices.
For further details on the implementation of the CES formula and the frequency of
weight updates for the C-CPI-U, please contact the CPI Information and Analysis
section at (202)691-6966.
New Estimation System
Effective with the release of the January 2015 CPI on February 26, 2015, the Bureau of
Labor Statistics will utilize a new estimation system for the Consumer Price Index.
The new estimation system, the first major improvement to the existing system in over
25 years, is a redesigned, state-of-the-art system with improved flexibility and
review capabilities. For more information on this new system, please see
Facilities for Sensory Impaired
Information from this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals
upon request. Voice phone: 202-691-5200, Federal Relay Services: 1-800-877-8339.
Brief Explanation of the CPI
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a measure of the average change in prices over time
of goods and services purchased by households. The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes
CPIs for two population groups: (1) the CPI for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers
(CPI-W), which covers households of wage earners and clerical workers that comprise
approximately 28 percent of the total population and (2) the CPI for All Urban
Consumers (CPI-U) and the Chained CPI for All Urban Consumers (C-CPI-U), which covers
approximately 89 percent of the total population and includes, in addition to wage
earners and clerical worker households, groups such as professional, managerial, and
technical workers, the self-employed, short-term workers, the unemployed, and retirees
and others not in the labor force.
The CPIs are based on prices of food, clothing, shelter, and fuels, transportation
fares, charges for doctors’ and dentists’ services, drugs, and other goods and services
that people buy for day-to-day living. Prices are collected each month in 87 urban areas
across the country from about 4,000 housing units and approximately 26,000 retail
establishments-department stores, supermarkets, hospitals, filling stations, and other
types of stores and service establishments. All taxes directly associated with the
purchase and use of items are included in the index. Prices of fuels and a few other
items are obtained every month in all 87 locations. Prices of most other commodities and
services are collected every month in the three largest geographic areas and every other
month in other areas. Prices of most goods and services are obtained by personal visits
or telephone calls of the Bureau’s trained representatives.
In calculating the index, price changes for the various items in each location are
averaged together with weights, which represent their importance in the spending of the
appropriate population group. Local data are then combined to obtain a U.S. city average.
For the CPI-U and CPI-W separate indexes are also published by size of city, by region
of the country, for cross-classifications of regions and population-size classes, and for
27 local areas. Area indexes do not measure differences in the level of prices among cities;
they only measure the average change in prices for each area since the base period. For the
C-CPI-U data are issued only at the national level. It is important to note that the CPI-U
and CPI-W are considered final when released, but the C-CPI-U is issued in preliminary form
and subject to two annual revisions.
The index measures price change from a designed reference date. For the CPI-U and the CPI-W
the reference base is 1982-84 equals 100. The reference base for the C-CPI-U is December
1999 equals 100. An increase of 16.5 percent from the reference base, for example, is shown
as 116.500. This change can also be expressed in dollars as follows: the price of a base
period market basket of goods and services in the CPI has risen from $10 in 1982-84 to $11.65.
For further details visit the CPI home page on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/cpi/ or
contact our CPI Information and Analysis Section on (202) 691-7000.
Note on Sampling Error in the Consumer Price Index
The CPI is a statistical estimate that is subject to sampling error because it is based upon
a sample of retail prices and not the complete universe of all prices. BLS calculates and
publishes estimates of the 1-month, 2-month, 6-month and 12-month percent change standard
errors annually, for the CPI-U. These standard error estimates can be used to construct
confidence intervals for hypothesis testing. For example, the estimated standard error of the
1 month percent change is 0.04 percent for the U.S. All Items Consumer Price Index. This
means that if we repeatedly sample from the universe of all retail prices using the same
methodology, and estimate a percentage change for each sample, then 95% of these estimates
would be within 0.08 percent of the 1 month percentage change based on all retail prices. For
example, for a 1-month change of 0.2 percent in the All Items CPI for All Urban Consumers, we
are 95 percent confident that the actual percent change based on all retail prices would fall
between 0.12 and 0.28 percent. For the latest data, including information on how to use the
estimates of standard error, see “Variance Estimates for Price Changes in the Consumer Price
Index, January-December 2013”. These data are available on the CPI home page
(http://www.bls.gov/cpi), or by using the following link: http://www.bls.gov/cpi/cpivar2013.pdf
Calculating Index Changes
Movements of the indexes from one month to another are usually expressed as percent changes
rather than changes in index points, because index point changes are affected by the level of
the index in relation to its base period while percent changes are not. The example below
illustrates the computation of index point and percent changes.
Percent changes for 3-month and 6-month periods are expressed as annual rates and are computed
according to the standard formula for compound growth rates. These data indicate what the
percent change would be if the current rate were maintained for a 12-month period.
Index Point Change
Less previous index 201.800
Equals index point change .616
Index point difference .616
Divided by the previous index 201.800
Results multiplied by one hundred 0.003x100
Equals percent change 0.3
A Note on Seasonally Adjusted and Unadjusted Data
Because price data are used for different purposes by different groups, the Bureau of Labor
Statistics publishes seasonally adjusted as well as unadjusted changes each month.
For analyzing general price trends in the economy, seasonally adjusted changes are usually
preferred, since they eliminate the effect of changes that normally occur at the same time
and in about the same magnitude every year--such as price movements resulting from changing
climatic conditions, production cycles, model changeovers, holidays, and sales.
The unadjusted data are of primary interest to consumers concerned about the prices they
actually pay. Unadjusted data also are used extensively for escalation purposes. Many
collective bargaining contract agreements and pension plans, for example, tie compensation
changes to the Consumer Price Index before adjustment for seasonal variation.
Seasonal factors used in computing the seasonally adjusted indexes are derived by the
X-13ARIMA-SEATS Seasonal Adjustment Method. Seasonally adjusted indexes and seasonal factors
are computed annually. Each year, the last five years of seasonally adjusted data are
revised. Data from January 2009 through December 2013 were replaced in January 2014.
Exceptions to the usual revision schedule were: the updated seasonal data at the end of 1977
replaced data from 1967 through 1977; and, in January 2002, dependently seasonally adjusted
series were revised for January 1987-December 2001 as a result of a change in the aggregation
weights for dependently adjusted series. For further information, please see “Aggregation
of Dependently Adjusted Seasonally Adjusted Series,” in the October 2001 issue of the CPI
Effective with the publication of data from January 2006 through December 2010 in January
2011, the Video and audio series and the Information technology, hardware and services series
were changed from independently adjusted to dependently adjusted. This resulted in an increase
in the number of seasonal components used in deriving seasonal movement of the All items and
64 other lower level aggregations, from 73 for the publication of January 1998 through December
2005 data to 82 for the publication of seasonally adjusted data for January 2006 and later.
Each year the seasonal status of every series is reevaluated based upon certain statistical
criteria. If any of the 82 components change their seasonal adjustment status from seasonally
adjusted to not seasonally adjusted, not seasonally adjusted data will be used in the
aggregation of the dependent series for the last five years, but the seasonally adjusted
indexes before that period will not be changed. Note: 35 of the 82 components are not
seasonally adjusted for 2014.
Seasonally adjusted data, including the all items index levels, are subject to revision for up
to five years after their original release. For this reason, BLS advises against the use of
these data in escalation agreements.
Effective with the calculation of the seasonal factors for 1990, the Bureau of Labor Statistics
has used an enhanced seasonal adjustment procedure called Intervention Analysis Seasonal
Adjustment for some CPI series. Intervention Analysis Seasonal Adjustment allows for better
estimates of seasonally adjusted data. Extreme values and/or sharp movements which might
distort the seasonal pattern are estimated and removed from the data prior to calculation of
seasonal factors. Beginning with the calculation of seasonal factors for 1996, X-12-ARIMA
software was used for Intervention Analysis Seasonal Adjustment. In 2014, for the 2009-2013
revisions, the Bureau of Labor Statistics began using X-13ARIMA-SEATS to perform the seasonal
adjustment of CPI series, including Intervention Analysis Seasonal Adjustment for certain series.
For the seasonal factors introduced in January 2014, BLS adjusted 31 series using Intervention
Analysis Seasonal Adjustment, including selected food and beverage items, motor fuels,
electricity and vehicles. For example, this procedure was used for the Motor fuel series to
offset the effects of events such as the response in crude oil markets to the worldwide economic
downturn in 2008.
For a complete list of Intervention Analysis Seasonal Adjustment series and explanations, please
refer to the article “Intervention Analysis Seasonal Adjustment”, located on our website at
For additional information on seasonal adjustment in the CPI, please write to the Bureau of
Labor Statistics, Division of Consumer Prices and Price Indexes, Washington, DC 20212 or contact
Chris Graci at (202) 691-5826, or by e-mail at email@example.com, or contact Carlyle
Jackson at (202)691-6984, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have general questions
about the CPI, please call our information staff at (202) 691-7000.