Transmission of material in this release is embargoed until
8:30 a.m. (EDT) Friday, April 17, 2015 USDL-15-0609
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CONSUMER PRICE INDEX - MARCH 2015
The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.2 percent
in March on a seasonally adjusted basis, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
reported today. Over the last 12 months, the all items index declined 0.1
percent before seasonal adjustment.
Increases in the energy and shelter indexes more than offset a decline in the
food index and were the main factors in the rise of the seasonally adjusted
all items index. The energy index rose 1.1 percent as advances in the
gasoline and fuel oil indexes outweighed declines in the electricity and
natural gas indexes. In contrast, the food index declined 0.2 percent, with
the food at home index posting its largest decline since April 2009.
The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.2 percent in March, the
same increase as in January and February. Along with the shelter index, a
broad array of indexes rose in March, including medical care, used cars and
trucks, apparel, new vehicles, household furnishings and operations, and
recreation. The index for airline fares, in contrast, declined for the fourth
time in the last 5 months.
The all items index declined 0.1 percent for the 12 months ending March. The
energy index declined 18.3 percent over the span, more than offsetting
increases in the indexes for food (up 2.3 percent) and all items less food
and energy (up 1.8 percent).
Table A. Percent changes in CPI for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U): U.S. city
Seasonally adjusted changes from
Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec. Jan. Feb. Mar. ended
2014 2014 2014 2014 2015 2015 2015 Mar.
All items.................. .1 .1 -.3 -.3 -.7 .2 .2 -.1
Food...................... .3 .2 .2 .2 .0 .2 -.2 2.3
Food at home............. .3 .2 .1 .2 -.2 .1 -.5 1.9
Food away from home (1).. .3 .2 .4 .3 .2 .3 .2 2.9
Energy.................... -.7 -1.2 -4.1 -4.7 -9.7 1.0 1.1 -18.3
Energy commodities....... -.9 -2.1 -7.0 -9.0 -18.0 2.1 3.8 -28.8
Gasoline (all types).... -.9 -2.0 -7.2 -9.2 -18.7 2.4 3.9 -29.2
Fuel oil (1)............ -2.1 -4.0 -3.5 -7.8 -9.9 1.9 5.9 -24.9
Energy services.......... -.4 -.1 -.3 .8 -.1 -.2 -1.5 -2.9
Electricity............. -.7 .5 .0 .6 .9 .3 -1.1 .9
Utility (piped) gas
service.............. .4 -1.9 -1.3 1.4 -3.4 -2.0 -2.7 -14.4
All items less food and
energy................. .1 .2 .1 .1 .2 .2 .2 1.8
Commodities less food and
energy commodities.... .1 .0 -.3 -.2 -.1 .2 .3 -.2
New vehicles............ .0 .1 .0 .0 -.1 .2 .2 .8
Used cars and trucks.... .0 -.6 -.9 -.8 -.1 1.0 1.2 -1.3
Apparel................. .1 -.3 -.7 -.8 .3 .3 .5 -.5
Medical care commodities .5 .2 .6 .9 -.3 .7 .1 4.2
Services less energy
services.............. .2 .2 .2 .2 .3 .1 .2 2.4
Shelter................. .3 .2 .2 .2 .3 .2 .3 3.0
Transportation services .1 .5 .2 .0 .4 .3 .0 2.0
Medical care services... .1 .2 .3 .3 .1 -.2 .4 1.9
1 Not seasonally adjusted.
Consumer Price Index Data for March 2015
The food index declined 0.2 percent in March after a 0.2-percent increase in
February. The index for food at home turned sharply down in March, falling 0.5
percent. Five of the six major grocery store food group indexes declined. The
fruits and vegetables index posted the largest decrease, falling 1.4 percent,
its third decline in a row. The index for nonalcoholic beverages, which rose
0.6 percent in February, fell 0.6 percent in March. The index for dairy and
related products fell 0.5 percent, as did the index for meats, poultry, fish,
and eggs. The index for beef and veal, however, rose for the fourteenth month
in a row, increasing 0.1 percent. The index for other food at home fell 0.1
percent in March after rising in February. The only major grocery store food
group index to increase in March was cereals and bakery products, which
increased 0.4 percent after declining in February. The food at home index has
increased 1.9 percent over the past 12 months. Five of the six groups have
risen over that span, with meats, poultry, fish, and eggs increasing the most,
at 6.0 percent. The fruits and vegetables index, however, has declined 1.1
percent over the last 12 months. The index for food away from home rose 0.2
percent in March and has increased 2.9 percent over the past 12 months.
The energy index rose 1.1 percent in March after increasing 1.0 percent in
February. The gasoline index increased 3.9 percent in March, its largest
increase since February 2013. (Before seasonal adjustment, gasoline prices
rose 10.5 percent in March.) The fuel oil index also rose in March, increasing
5.9 percent. In contrast, the index for natural gas declined 2.7 percent, and
the electricity index fell 1.1 percent. Over the past 12 months, the
electricity index has increased 0.9 percent, while the other energy indexes
have sharply declined. Despite the March increases, the gasoline index has
fallen 29.2 percent over the last 12 months, and the index for fuel oil has
decreased 24.9 percent. The index for natural gas has also declined over the
span, falling 14.4 percent.
All items less food and energy
The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.2 percent in March.
The shelter index increased 0.3 percent, with the indexes for rent and owners'
equivalent rent both rising 0.3 percent and the index for lodging away from
home increasing 0.4 percent. The medical care index, which was unchanged in
February, rose 0.3 percent in March. The index for medical care services rose
0.4 percent, with the indexes for physicians' services and for hospital
services both rising 0.6 percent after declining in February. The index for
used cars and trucks increased 1.2 percent after rising 1.0 percent the
previous month. The apparel index rose 0.5 percent in March, its third
consecutive increase. Also rising in March were the indexes for new vehicles,
for alcoholic beverages, and for household furnishings and operations, all of
which increased 0.2 percent. The tobacco index rose 0.4 percent, and the index
for recreation advanced 0.1 percent. The index for airline fares, in contrast,
declined 1.7 percent in March af ter rising in February.
The index for all items less food and energy has risen 1.8 percent over the
past 12 months, a slight increase from the 1.7 percent increase for the 12
months ending February. Over the last 12 months, the shelter index has risen
3.0 percent, while the medical care index has increased 2.5 percent. The
indexes for used cars and trucks, for apparel, and for airline fares have all
declined over the past year.
Not seasonally adjusted CPI measures
The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) decreased 0.1 percent
over the last 12 months to an index level of 236.119 (1982-84=100). For the
month, the index rose 0.6 percent prior to seasonal adjustment.
The Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W)
decreased 0.6 percent over the last 12 months to an index level of 231.055
(1982-84=100). For the month, the index rose 0.7 percent prior to seasonal
The Chained Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (C-CPI-U) decreased
0.4 percent over the last 12 months. For the month, the index rose 0.7 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 April 2015 is scheduled to be released on Friday,
May 22, 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 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 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
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 designated 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 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
2010 through December 2014 were replaced in January 2015. 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 Detailed
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: 32 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
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
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 www.bls.gov/cpi/cpisapage.htm.
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.
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