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Wednesday, March 18, 2009
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Philadelphia Area Consumer Price Index: February 2009 (PDF)

Retail Prices Register Second Consecutive Over-the-Year Decrease

Retail prices in the Philadelphia area, as measured by the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U), increased 1.0 percent from December to February, after falling 3.1 percent in the previous two-month period, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. Sheila Watkins, the Bureau's regional commissioner, noted that while all of the eight major categories rose since December, apparel was primarily responsible for the recent advance. (See chart A.) The February level of 220.262 (1982-84 = 100) was 0.3 percent lower than in February 2008—the second consecutive over-the-year decline in the local CPI after more than 52 years without a 12-month decrease. Over the last 12 months, the core inflation rate, as measured by the all items less food and energy index, rose 1.2 percent. (See table 1.)

Chart A. 2-month and 12-month percent changes ended February 2009 for the major categories of the CPI-U for the Philadelphia area, not seasonally adjusted

2-month and 12-month percent changes ended February 2009 for the major categories of the CPI-U for the Philadelphia area, not seasonally adjusted
chart data

Apparel prices jumped 14.1 percent over the last two months—the largest December-February advance since publication began in 1953. Over the year, the apparel index rose 3.8 percent.

Following three consecutive bimonthly periods of decreases, totaling 20.9 percent, the transportation index rose 1.1 percent from December to February. Higher gasoline prices were responsible for the recent increase, up 6.6 percent since December after three consecutive bimonthly declines totaling 54.9 percent. Over the year, gasoline prices dropped 35.1 percent. Lower prices for used cars and trucks helped to moderate the two-month advance in the transportation index. Since February 2008, transportation prices declined 11.4 percent.

The housing index rose 0.3 percent from December to February after falling 1.1 percent from October to December. The household furnishing and operations index rose 1.6 percent since December due partially to higher major appliance prices; the index was 2.7 percent higher over the year. Shelter prices, which includes rent of primary residence, lodging away from home, owners’ equivalent rent of primary residence, and tenants’ and household insurance, inched up 0.1 percent from December to February and rose 0.4 percent over the year. The fuels and utilities index also rose since December, up 0.6 percent. Higher prices for electricity (1.9 percent) were partially offset by lower prices for fuel oil, while the utility (piped) gas services index was unchanged from December to February. Over the year, prices for electricity and utility gas advanced 5.4 and 8.3 percent, respectively. The fuels and utilities index increased 2.2-percent since February 2008. The overall housing index was 0.9 percent above its year-ago level.

The education and communication index increased for the seventh consecutive bimonthly period, up 0.9 percent over the last two months and 4.4 percent over the year.

The food and beverages index edged up 0.2 percent since December due almost entirely to higher prices for food away from home, in particular full service meals and snacks. The food away from home index rose 0.9 percent over the last two months and 3.5 percent over the year. Prices for alcoholic beverages inched up 0.1 percent since December and were 4.7 percent higher than February 2008 levels. Moderating the overall increase in the food and beverages index, food at home prices declined 0.4 percent from December to February, but increased 2.9 percent over the last 12 months. Since February 2008, the food and beverages index advanced 3.3 percent.

Recreation prices rose 0.5 percent over the last two months, due mainly to higher prices for sports equipment. Over the year, recreation prices were essentially unchanged, rising just 0.1 percent.

The other goods and services index, which includes tobacco and smoking products, personal care products, personal care services, and miscellaneous personal services such as legal, funeral, and laundry and dry cleaning services, increased 0.7 percent since December and 3.1 percent since February 2008.

Prices for medical care edged up 0.2 percent over the last two months to a level 2.0 percent higher than last year.

The energy index, which reflects prices for gasoline and household fuels, advanced 2.3 percent from December to February due in large part to higher gasoline prices, which rose 6.6 percent. Higher electricity prices (1.9 percent) also contributed to the recent increase in the energy index, while lower fuel oil prices moderated the overall advance. Utility (piped) gas service was unchanged over the last two months. Since last February, energy prices fell 15.5 percent.

Over fourth-fifths of the recent two-month increase in Philadelphia CPI was due to higher commodities prices, which increased 2.2 percent. The service index edged up 0.3 percent from December to February. Commodities prices were 3.5 percent lower since last February, while prices for services rose 1.6 percent over the year.

The CPI-U for the Philadelphia area stood at 220.262 on the 1982-84=100 reference base, which means that a market basket of goods and services which averaged $100.00 in 1982-84 would have cost $220.26 in February 2009.

The Philadelphia-Wilmington-Atlantic City, Pa.-N.J.-Del.-Md., Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Area (CMSA), includes Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties in Pennsylvania; Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem Counties in New Jersey; New Castle County in Delaware; and Cecil County in Maryland.

The relative importance of a component of the CPI is its expenditure or value weight expressed as a percentage of all items within an area. Relative importance ratios show approximately how the index population distributes expenditures when the value weights are collected and represent an estimate of how consumers would distribute their expenditures as prices change over time. Relative importance ratios cannot be used as estimates of current spending patterns or as indicators of changing consumer expenditures in the intervals between weight revisions because consumption patterns are influenced by factors—including income, variations in climate, family size, and availability of new and different kinds of goods and services—other than price change. (See table A.)

Table A (2005-2006 weights). Relative Importance of components in the Consumer Price Index: Philadelphia area, December 2008
Item and group CPI-U
Expenditure category

All items

100.000

Food and beverages

14.239

Food

13.267

Food at home

7.379

Food away from home

5.889

Alcoholic beverages

0.972

Housing

47.540

Shelter

36.829

Rent of primary residence

6.021

Owners' equivalent rent of primary residence

28.445

Fuels and utilities

6.872

Household energy

5.813

Gas (piped) and electricity

5.205

Electricity

3.512

Utility (piped) gas service

1.694

Household furnishings and operations

3.839

Apparel

3.580

Transportation

14.105

Private transportation

13.082

Motor fuel

2.989

Gasoline

2.802

Medical care

5.355

Recreation

5.061

Education and communication

6.929

Other goods and services

3.192
Commodity and service group

Commodities

35.551

Commodities less food and beverages

21.313

Non durables less food and beverages

12.656

Durables

8.657

Services

64.449
Special aggregate indexes

All items less medical care

94.645

All items less shelter

63.171

Commodities less food

22.284

Nondurables

26.894

Nondurables less food

13.627

Services less rent of shelter

27.926

Services less medical care services

60.579

Energy

8.802

All items less energy

91.198

All items less food and energy

77.930
Table 1. Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U): Indexes and percent changes for selected periods, Philadelphia-Wilmington-Atlantic City, Pa.-N.J.-Del.-Md. (1982-84=100 unless otherwise noted)
Expenditure category Indexes Percent change from-
Dec. 2008 Jan. 2009 Feb. 2009 Feb. 2008 Dec. 2008 Jan. 2009

All items

218.186 - 220.262 -0.3 1.0 -

Food and beverages

206.753 - 207.089 3.3 0.2 -

Food

206.530 - 206.881 3.2 0.2 -

Food at home

219.333 219.226 218.460 2.9 -0.4 -0.3

Food away from home

184.989 - 186.620 3.5 0.9 -

Alcoholic beverages

207.062 - 207.188 4.7 0.1 -

Housing

229.663 - 230.364 0.9 0.3 -

Shelter

273.168 272.478 273.489 0.4 0.1 0.4

Rent of primary residence (1)

259.125 258.748 257.079 1.9 -0.8 -0.6

Owners' equivalent rent of primary residence (1) (2)

280.538 278.615 278.981 0.0 -0.6 0.1

Fuels and utilities

208.826 - 210.035 2.2 0.6 -

Household energy

189.270 188.238 190.148 0.5 0.5 1.0

Gas (piped) and electricity (1)

207.290 207.894 210.041 6.3 1.3 1.0

Electricity (1)

192.963 193.809 196.725 5.4 1.9 1.5

Utility (piped) gas service (1)

238.916 238.881 239.001 8.3 0.0 0.1

Household furnishings and operations

125.330 - 127.357 2.7 1.6 -

Apparel

90.678 - 103.498 3.8 14.1 -

Transportation

169.009 - 170.951 -11.4 1.1 -

Private transportation

165.884 - 168.122 -11.6 1.3 -

Motor fuel

165.279 157.266 175.043 -34.6 5.9 11.3

Gasoline (all types)

160.046 152.416 170.611 -35.1 6.6 11.9

Gasoline, unleaded regular (3)

156.235 149.463 168.632 -36.4 7.9 12.8

Gasoline, unleaded midgrade (3) (4)

164.784 155.016 171.089 -33.1 3.8 10.4

Gasoline, unleaded premium (3)

161.157 152.520 167.337 -31.4 3.8 9.7

Medical care

423.742 - 424.514 2.0 0.2 -

Recreation (5)

122.410 - 122.972 0.1 0.5 -

Education and communication (5)

126.959 - 128.058 4.4 0.9 -

Other goods and services

389.677 - 392.367 3.1 0.7 -
Commodity and service group            

Commodities

159.128 - 162.597 -3.5 2.2 -

Commodities less food and beverages

132.985 - 137.676 -7.5 3.5 -

Nondurables less food and beverages

153.464 - 162.081 -10.4 5.6 -

Durables

109.661 - 110.182 -2.7 0.5 -

Services

278.869 - 279.633 1.6 0.3 -
Special aggregate indexes            

All items less medical care

209.632 - 211.717 -0.4 1.0 -

All items less shelter

200.707 - 203.592 -0.7 1.4 -

Commodities less food

135.593 - 140.170 -7.0 3.4 -

Nondurables

180.001 - 184.911 -3.8 2.7 -

Nondurables less food

156.422 - 164.585 -9.5 5.2 -

Services less rent of shelter (2)

291.971 - 293.368 3.2 0.5 -

Services less medical care services

267.172 - 268.002 1.6 0.3 -

Energy

179.326 175.728 183.473 -15.5 2.3 4.4

All items less energy

224.270 - 226.110 1.5 0.8 -

All items less food and energy

229.523 - 231.660 1.2 0.9 -

Footnotes
1 This index series was calculated using a Laspeyres estimator. All other item stratum index series were calculated using a geometric means estimator.
2 Indexes on a December 1982=100 base.
3 Special index based on a substantially smaller sample.
4 Indexes on a December 1993=100 base.
5 Indexes on a December 1997=100 base.
- Data not available.
NOTE: Index applies to a month as a whole, not to any specific date.

 

Last Modified Date: September 23, 2009