Transmission of material in this release is embargoed until
8:30 a.m. (EDT) Friday, May 22, 2015 USDL-15-0972
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Media Contact: (202)691-5902 PressOffice@bls.gov
CONSUMER PRICE INDEX - APRIL 2015
The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.1 percent
in April on a seasonally adjusted basis, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
reported today. Over the last 12 months, the all items index declined 0.2
percent before seasonal adjustment.
The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.3 percent in April and led
to the slight increase in the seasonally adjusted all items index. The index
for shelter rose, as did the indexes for medical care, household furnishings
and operations, used cars and trucks, and new vehicles. In contrast, the
indexes for apparel and airline fares declined in April.
The energy index declined in April, while the food index was unchanged. The
indexes for gasoline, natural gas, and fuel oil all declined, while the
electricity index was unchanged. The food at home index declined for the second
month in a row, offsetting an increase in the index for food away from home.
Major grocery store food group indexes were mixed.
The all items index declined 0.2 percent for the 12 months ending April. This
represented a slightly larger decrease than the 0.1-percent decline for the 12
months ending March. The decline was driven by the energy index, which fell
19.4 percent over the last 12 months, with all the major components declining
except electricity. The food index rose 2.0 percent over the last year, and the
index for all items less food and energy rose 1.8 percent.
Table A. Percent changes in CPI for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U): U.S. city
Seasonally adjusted changes from
Oct. Nov. Dec. Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. ended
2014 2014 2014 2015 2015 2015 2015 Apr.
All items.................. .1 -.3 -.3 -.7 .2 .2 .1 -.2
Food...................... .2 .2 .2 .0 .2 -.2 .0 2.0
Food at home............. .2 .1 .2 -.2 .1 -.5 -.2 1.3
Food away from home (1).. .2 .4 .3 .2 .3 .2 .2 2.9
Energy.................... -1.2 -4.1 -4.7 -9.7 1.0 1.1 -1.3 -19.4
Energy commodities....... -2.1 -7.0 -9.0 -18.0 2.1 3.8 -1.9 -31.2
Gasoline (all types).... -2.0 -7.2 -9.2 -18.7 2.4 3.9 -1.7 -31.7
Fuel oil (1)............ -4.0 -3.5 -7.8 -9.9 1.9 5.9 -8.4 -29.1
Energy services.......... -.1 -.3 .8 -.1 -.2 -1.5 -.5 -1.2
Electricity............. .5 .0 .6 .9 .3 -1.1 .0 3.8
Utility (piped) gas
service.............. -1.9 -1.3 1.4 -3.4 -2.0 -2.7 -2.6 -16.3
All items less food and
energy................. .2 .1 .1 .2 .2 .2 .3 1.8
Commodities less food and
energy commodities.... .0 -.3 -.2 -.1 .2 .3 .1 -.2
New vehicles............ .1 .0 .0 -.1 .2 .2 .1 .8
Used cars and trucks.... -.6 -.9 -.8 -.1 1.0 1.2 .6 -.5
Apparel................. -.3 -.7 -.8 .3 .3 .5 -.3 -.8
Medical care commodities .2 .6 .9 -.3 .7 .1 .1 4.1
Services less energy
services.............. .2 .2 .2 .3 .1 .2 .3 2.5
Shelter................. .2 .2 .2 .3 .2 .3 .3 3.0
Transportation services .5 .2 .0 .4 .3 .0 .1 1.6
Medical care services... .2 .3 .3 .1 -.2 .4 .9 2.6
1 Not seasonally adjusted.
Consumer Price Index Data for April 2015
The food index was unchanged in April after a 0.2-percent decline in March.
The food at home index, which declined 0.5 percent in March, fell 0.2 percent
in April. The index for dairy and related products posted the largest decline
of the major grocery store food groups, falling 0.8 percent, its fourth
consecutive decrease. The index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs fell 0.7
percent, with the beef index rising for the fifteenth month in a row but the
indexes for pork, poultry, and eggs all declining. The index for cereals and
bakery products also declined in April, falling 0.3 percent. In contrast, the
index for nonalcoholic beverages rose 0.5 percent in April after declining in
March. The index for fruits and vegetables also turned up in April, rising
0.2 percent after falling in each of the previous 3 months. The index for
other food at home also increased slightly, rising 0.1 percent. The index for
food at home has increased 1.3 percent for the 12 months ending April; this is
the smallest 12-month increase since the year ending February 2014. The index
for food away from home rose 0.2 percent in April and has risen 2.9 percent
over the last 12 months.
The energy index declined 1.3 percent in April after rising in February and
March. The gasoline index, which rose 3.9 percent in March, fell 1.7 percent in
April. (Before seasonal adjustment, gasoline prices were unchanged in April.)
The index for fuel oil fell sharply in April, declining 8.4 percent. The index
for natural gas also fell; its 2.6-percent decrease was its fourth decline in
a row. The electricity index, which declined in March, was unchanged in April.
The electricity index has increased 3.8 percent over the last 12 months, but
the other energy indexes have sharply declined over the last year. The gasoline
index has fallen 31.7 percent, the fuel oil index has decreased 29.1 percent,
and the index for natural gas has declined 16.3 percent.
All items less food and energy
The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.3 percent in April,
its largest increase since January 2013. The shelter index increased 0.3
percent, the same increase as in March. The indexes for rent, owners'
equivalent rent, and lodging away from home all rose 0.3 percent. The medical
care index rose 0.7 percent, its largest increase since January 2007. The index
for medical care services rose 0.9 percent with the hospital services index
rising 1.9 percent. The index for household furnishings and operations rose 0.5
percent, its largest increase since September 2008. The index for used cars and
trucks increased 0.6 percent, and the new vehicles index rose 0.1 percent. The
indexes for alcoholic beverages and for tobacco were both unchanged in April.
The apparel index declined for the first time since December, falling 0.3
percent. The index for airline fares continued to decline, falling 1.3 percent
after a 1.7-percent decline in March.
The index for all items less food and energy has risen 1.8 percent over the
past 12 months, the same increase as for the 12 months ending March. This is
slightly below its 1.9-percent annualized increase over the past 10 years. The
shelter index has risen 3.0 percent over the last year, and the medical care
index has advanced 2.9 percent. The index for airline fares fell 7.5 percent
over the last year, and the indexes for apparel and for used cars and trucks
have also declined.
Not seasonally adjusted CPI measures
The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) decreased 0.2 percent
over the last 12 months to an index level of 236.599 (1982-84=100). For the
month, the index rose 0.2 percent prior to seasonal adjustment.
The Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W)
decreased 0.8 percent over the last 12 months to an index level of 231.520
(1982-84=100). For the month, the index rose 0.2 percent prior to seasonal
The Chained Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (C-CPI-U) decreased
0.6 percent over the last 12 months. For the month, the index rose 0.2 percent
on a not seasonally adjusted basis. Please note that the indexes for the past
10 to 12 months are subject to revision.
The Consumer Price Index for May 2015 is scheduled to be released on Thursday,
June 18, 2015, at 8:30 a.m. (EDT).
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
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, fuels,
transportation fares, charges for doctorsí and dentistsí 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 6,000
housing units and approximately 24,000 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
Bureauís 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
www.bls.gov/cpi/ or contact our CPI Information and Analysis Section on
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
(www.bls.gov/cpi), or by using the following link:
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 the Use of Seasonally Adjusted and Unadjusted Data
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) produces both unadjusted and seasonally adjusted
data. Seasonally adjusted data are computed using seasonal factors derived by
the X-13ARIMA-SEATS Seasonal Adjustment Method. These factors are updated each
January, and the new factors are used to revise the previous five years of
seasonally adjusted data. For more information on data revisions and exceptions
to the usual revision schedule, please see the Fact Sheet on Seasonal
Adjustment at www.bls.gov/cpi/cpisaqanda.htm and the Timeline of Seasonal
Adjustment Methodological Changes at www.bls.gov/cpi/cpiseastimeline.htm.
How to Use Seasonally Adjusted and Unadjusted Data
For analyzing short-term 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. This allows data users to focus
on changes that are not typical for the time of year. The unadjusted data are
of primary interest to consumers concerned about the prices they actually pay.
Unadjusted data are also 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. BLS advises against the use of seasonally adjusted data in
escalation agreements because seasonally adjusted series are revised annually.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics uses Intervention Analysis Seasonal Adjustment
for some CPI series. Sometimes extreme values or sharp movements can distort
the underlying seasonal pattern of price change. Intervention Analysis
Seasonal Adjustment is a process by which the distortions caused by such
unusual events are estimated and removed from the data prior to calculation
of seasonal factors. The resulting seasonal factors, which more accurately
represent the seasonal pattern, are then applied to the unadjusted data.
2015 Series Adjusted Using Intervention Analysis Seasonal Adjustment
For the seasonal factors introduced in January 2015, BLS adjusted 33 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
Revision of Seasonally Adjusted Indexes
Seasonally adjusted data, including the U.S. city average All items index
levels, are subject to revision for up to five years after their original
release. Every year, economists in the CPI calculate new seasonal factors
for seasonally adjusted series and apply them to the last five years of data.
Seasonally adjusted indexes beyond the last five years of data are considered
to be final and not subject to revision. In January 2015, revised seasonal
factors and seasonally adjusted indexes for 2009-2014 were calculated and
published. For directly adjusted series, the seasonal factors for 2014 will
be applied to data for 2015 to produce the seasonally adjusted 2015 indexes.
Determining Seasonal Status
Each year the seasonal status of every series is reevaluated based upon certain
statistical criteria. Using these criteria, BLS economists determine whether a
series should change its status: from "not seasonally adjusted" to "seasonally
adjusted," or vice versa. If any of the 82 components of the U.S. city average
all items index 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. Thirty-two of the 82
components of the U.S. city average all items index are not seasonally adjusted
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 Christopher Graci, Justin Yarros, or Samuel An
at (202) 691-6968 or by e-mail at Graci.Christopher@bls.gov, Yarros.Justin@bls.gov
or An.Samuel@bls.gov. If you have general questions about the CPI, please call our
information staff at (202) 691-7000.