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PLS 4533
For Release:
Friday, May 15, 2009
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PHILADELPHIA AREA CONSUMER PRICE INDEX: APRIL 2009 (PDF)

Largest 12-Month Decrease in Over 53 Years

Retail prices in the Philadelphia area, as measured by the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U), rose 0.6 percent from February to April, following a 1.0-percent increase in the previous two-month period, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today.  The recent two-month advance reflected increases in every major category that comprises the CPI except for education and communication, which was unchanged.  (See chart A.)  Sheila Watkins, the Bureau's regional commissioner, noted that despite the recent advances, April’s 12-month decrease of 0.9 percent was the largest over-the-year decline in the local CPI since November 1955.  Over the last 12 months, the core inflation rate, as measured by the all items less food and energy index, rose 1.3 percent.  (See table 1.)

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

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

chart data

The housing index increased 0.3 percent from February to April due to higher prices for shelter, which rose 1.2 percent over the last two months.  The advance in the shelter index reflected higher prices for owners’ equivalent rent of primary residence, up 0.8 percent since February and 0.3 percent over the year, and for other lodging away from home, including hotels and motels.  Over the last 12 months, shelter prices rose 0.8 percent.  Lower prices for fuels and utilities and for household furnishings and operations moderated the overall advance in housing prices.  The fuels and utilities index fell 2.9 percent from February to April, led by lower prices for utility (piped) gas service, down 7.9 percent over the last two months; prices for electricity (-1.1 percent) and fuel oil were also lower since February.  Over the year, utility gas prices fell 3.1 percent, while electricity prices advanced 4.6 percent.  The overall fuels and utilities index fell 2.6 percent since last April—the first over-the-year decrease in this index since October 2002.  Prices for household furnishings and operations fell 2.0 percent since February but increased 0.4 percent since April 2008.  The overall housing index edged up 0.2 percent over the last 12 months.

Dominated by higher cigarette prices as an increase in the federal excise tax went into effect, the other goods and services index jumped 4.7 percent from February to April—the largest bimonthly increase in this index since September 1983.  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, advanced 6.6 percent over the year.

The transportation index rose 0.9 percent since February, due almost entirely to higher gasoline prices, which advanced 5.7 percent over the two-month period.  Due to strong decreases in the second half of 2008, gasoline prices were 37.0 percent lower than their year-ago levels.  Over the last 12 months, transportation prices fell 12.6 percent.

Apparel prices advanced 2.4 percent from February to April, led by higher prices for a number of items, including girls’ apparel; infants’ and toddlers’ apparel; and men’s suits, sport coats, and outerwear.  Apparel prices declined 0.5 percent since April 2008.

The food and beverages index increased 0.5 percent since February led by higher prices for food away from home, which rose 0.7 percent over the last two months.  Also contributing to the recent increase in the food and beverages index were higher prices for food at home and alcoholic beverages, up 0.3 and 1.3 percent, respectively.  Over the last 12 months, these three components all recorded price advances—4.4 percent for food away from home, 2.0 percent for food at home, and 5.2 percent for alcoholic beverages.  The overall food and beverages index was 3.2 percent higher than last April.

The medical care index rose 0.5 percent from February to April due in part to higher prices for prescription drugs.  Medical care prices rose 2.4 percent over the last 12 months.

The recreation index was up 0.4 percent over the last two months.  Since April 2008, recreation prices edged up 0.3 percent.

The education and communication index was unchanged from February to April.  Over the year, the education and communication index advanced 4.4 percent.

The energy index, which reflects prices for gasoline and household fuels, fell 0.4 percent since February, reflecting lower prices for utility (piped) gas (-7.9 percent), electricity (-1.1 percent), and fuel oil.  Higher gasoline prices (5.7 percent) moderated the overall decline in the energy index over the last two months.  Since last April, energy prices fell 20.2 percent, the largest over-the-year decline since December 1986.

The two-month advance in the CPI reflected increases in both the services index, up 0.5 percent, and the commodities index, up 0.8 percent.  Services prices rose 1.7 percent over the last 12 months, while commodities prices declined 5.1 percent since April 2008.

The CPI-U for the Philadelphia area stood at 221.686 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 $221.69 in April 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-
Feb. 2009 Mar. 2009 Apr. 2009 Apr. 2008 Feb. 2009 Mar. 2009

All items

220.262 - 221.686 -0.9 0.6 -

Food and beverages

207.089 - 208.163 3.2 0.5 -

Food

206.881 - 207.838 3.1 0.5 -

Food at home

218.460 216.533 219.018 2.0 0.3 1.1

Food away from home

186.620 - 187.962 4.4 0.7 -

Alcoholic beverages

207.188 - 209.851 5.2 1.3 -

Housing

230.364 - 231.107 0.2 0.3 -

Shelter

273.489 275.108 276.667 0.8 1.2 0.6

Rent of primary residence (1)

257.079 257.621 256.805 1.4 -0.1 -0.3

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

278.981 280.692 281.221 0.3 0.8 0.2

Fuels and utilities

210.035 - 204.012 -2.6 -2.9 -

Household energy

190.148 184.270 183.727 -5.0 -3.4 -0.3

Gas (piped) and electricity (1)

210.041 204.129 203.185 2.1 -3.3 -0.5

Electricity (1)

196.725 195.481 194.598 4.6 -1.1 -0.5

Utility (piped) gas service (1)

239.001 221.253 220.175 -3.1 -7.9 -0.5

Household furnishings and operations

127.357 - 124.856 0.4 -2.0 -

Apparel

103.498 - 105.960 -0.5 2.4 -

Transportation

170.951 - 172.532 -12.6 0.9 -

Private transportation

168.122 - 170.235 -12.9 1.3 -

Motor fuel

175.043 176.303 183.718 -37.3 5.0 4.2

Gasoline (all types)

170.611 172.866 180.420 -37.0 5.7 4.4

Gasoline, unleaded regular (3)

168.632 171.283 179.369 -38.0 6.4 4.7

Gasoline, unleaded midgrade (3) (4)

171.089 172.444 178.494 -35.5 4.3 3.5

Gasoline, unleaded premium (3)

167.337 168.666 175.055 -33.9 4.6 3.8

Medical care

424.514 - 426.474 2.4 0.5 -

Recreation (5)

122.972 - 123.447 0.3 0.4 -

Education and communication (5)

128.058 - 128.081 4.4 0.0 -

Other goods and services

392.367 - 410.697 6.6 4.7 -
Commodity and service group            

Commodities

162.597 - 163.935 -5.1 0.8 -

Commodities less food and beverages

137.676 - 139.080 -9.7 1.0 -

Nondurables less food and beverages

162.081 - 166.422 -13.1 2.7 -

Durables

110.182 - 108.498 -3.8 -1.5 -

Services

279.633 - 281.163 1.7 0.5 -
Special aggregate indexes            

All items less medical care

211.717 - 213.108 -1.0 0.7 -

All items less shelter

203.592 - 204.305 -1.8 0.4 -

Commodities less food

140.170 - 141.616 -9.2 1.0 -

Nondurables

184.911 - 187.802 -5.4 1.6 -

Nondurables less food

164.585 - 168.838 -12.0 2.6 -

Services less rent of shelter (2)

293.368 - 292.590 2.9 -0.3 -

Services less medical care services

268.002 - 269.538 1.7 0.6 -

Energy

183.473 180.259 182.652 -20.2 -0.4 1.3

All items less energy

226.110 - 227.814 1.5 0.8 -

All items less food and energy

231.660 - 233.519 1.3 0.8 -

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