Web site: www.bls.gov/ro3/ PLS - 4577
For Release:
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Information: Gerald Perrins
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Media Contact: Sheila Watkins
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PHILADELPHIA AREA CONSUMER PRICE INDEX: AUGUST 2009 (PDF)

Fifth Consecutive Over-the-Year Decrease

Retail prices in the Philadelphia area, as measured by the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U), rose 1.0 percent from June to August, following an identical increase in the previous two-month period, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today.  While the recent two-month advance was led by higher prices for housing and apparel, most major categories that comprise the CPI had higher prices over the last two months.  Only the food and beverages and medical care indexes fell since June.  (See chart A.)  Sheila Watkins, the Bureau's regional commissioner, noted that despite four straight bimonthly advances, the local CPI declined 1.0 percent since last August.  Over the last 12 months, the core inflation rate, as measured by the all items less food and energy index, rose 1.9 percent.  (See table 1.)

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

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

Chart Data

The housing index advanced 1.1 percent from June to August due almost entirely to higher prices for shelter (1.3 percent), in particular owners’ equivalent rent of primary residence.  Over the last two months, prices for owners’ equivalent rent also rose 1.3 percent to a level 2.6 percent higher than a year ago.  Shelter prices increased 1.7 percent since last August.  An advance in fuel oil prices led the 1.4-percent increase in the fuels and utilities index, while prices for electricity and utility (piped) gas service had little or no change since June.  Electricity prices inched up 0.1 percent from June to August but fell 0.5 percent over the year.  Utility gas prices were unchanged over the last two months but dropped 18.4 percent over the year—the largest 12-month decline since the inception of the index in May 1971.  The overall fuels and utilities index fell 8.8 percent since last August.  Moderating the overall advance in the housing index, prices for household furnishings and operations fell 2.2 percent since June and 1.9 percent over the year.  The overall housing index edged down 0.2 percent since August 2008.

Apparel prices rose as they usually do from June to August, jumping 9.6 percent over the last two months.  The recent increase was led by higher prices for a number of items, including women’s suits and separates, men’s suits, sport coats, and outerwear, and women’s footwear.  Apparel prices advanced 7.6 percent since last August—the largest 12-month increase since December 2004.

Following normal seasonal patterns, the education and communication index advanced 1.7 percent from June to August, dominated by higher prices for college tuition and fees.  Over the year, the education and communication index rose 3.8 percent.

Led by higher prices for gasoline, the transportation index edged up 0.3 percent since June.  Gasoline prices rose 1.8 percent over the last two months.  Due to strong decreases in the second half of 2008, gasoline prices were 30.1 percent lower than their year-ago levels.  Also contributing to the two-month advance in the transportation index were higher prices for used cars and trucks and airline fare.  Over the last 12 months, transportation prices fell 11.1 percent.

Dominated by higher cigarette prices, the other goods and services index rose 0.6 percent from June to August.  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 6.0 percent over the year.

The recreation index rose 0.4 percent over the last two months.  Recreation prices were also 0.4 percent higher since August 2008.

The food and beverages index fell 0.3 percent since June as prices decreased for food at home (-0.5 percent) and alcoholic beverages (-0.2 percent).  Prices for food away from home were unchanged over the last two months.  Prices for food at home were down 1.6 percent from their year-ago levels, while prices for food away from home and alcoholic beverages rose 4.1 and 3.2 percent, respectively.  The overall food and beverages index advanced 1.1 percent since last August.

The medical care index edged down 0.2 percent from June to August but was 1.7 percent higher over the year.

The energy index, which reflects prices for gasoline and household fuels, rose 1.1 percent since June, reflecting higher prices for gasoline (1.8 percent) and fuel oil.  Prices for electricity and utility (piped) gas had little or no change over the two-month period.  Since last August, energy prices fell 20.8 percent.

The two-month advance in the CPI reflected increases in both the services index, up 1.1 percent, and the commodities index, up 0.8 percent.  Services prices rose 1.3 percent over the last 12 months, while commodities prices declined 4.9 percent since August 2008.

The CPI-U for the Philadelphia area stood at 226.039 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 $226.04 in August 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-
June 2009 July 2009 Aug. 2009 Aug. 2008 June 2009 July 2009

All items

223.810 - 226.039 -1.0 1.0 -

Food and beverages

205.990 - 205.367 1.1 -0.3 -

Food

205.572 - 204.931 0.9 -0.3 -

Food at home

214.757 215.243 213.594 -1.6 -0.5 -0.8

Food away from home

187.892 - 187.826 4.1 0.0 -

Alcoholic beverages

208.969 - 208.618 3.2 -0.2 -

Housing

233.142 - 235.599 -0.2 1.1 -

Shelter

277.901 280.881 281.580 1.7 1.3 0.2

Rent of primary residence (1)

257.720 258.974 259.231 1.2 0.6 0.1

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

283.604 286.334 287.371 2.6 1.3 0.4

Fuels and utilities

210.597 - 213.541 -8.8 1.4 -

Household energy

190.778 191.251 191.627 -11.9 0.4 0.2

Gas (piped) and electricity (1)

210.632 211.205 210.790 -6.2 0.1 -0.2

Electricity (1)

209.611 210.405 209.859 -0.5 0.1 -0.3

Utility (piped) gas service (1)

208.014 208.004 207.937 -18.4 0.0 0.0

Household furnishings and operations

126.104 - 123.351 -1.9 -2.2 -

Apparel

97.004 - 106.339 7.6 9.6 -

Transportation

185.695 - 186.232 -11.1 0.3 -

Private transportation

183.844 - 184.125 -10.6 0.2 -

Motor fuel

230.657 233.230 235.074 -30.5 1.9 0.8

Gasoline (all types)

227.985 230.363 232.073 -30.1 1.8 0.7

Gasoline, unleaded regular (3)

228.274 230.623 232.846 -30.3 2.0 1.0

Gasoline, unleaded midgrade (3) (4)

223.502 225.993 226.678 -30.2 1.4 0.3

Gasoline, unleaded premium (3)

216.259 218.460 218.976 -29.0 1.3 0.2

Medical care

426.589 - 425.550 1.7 -0.2 -

Recreation (5)

122.619 - 123.057 0.4 0.4 -

Education and communication (5)

127.960 - 130.132 3.8 1.7 -

Other goods and services

410.245 - 412.602 6.0 0.6 -
Commodity and service group            

Commodities

166.282 - 167.585 -4.9 0.8 -

Commodities less food and beverages

143.285 - 145.370 -8.1 1.5 -

Nondurables less food and beverages

172.976 - 179.574 -10.2 3.8 -

Durables

110.189 - 107.528 -4.3 -2.4 -

Services

283.107 - 286.268 1.3 1.1 -
Special aggregate indexes            

All items less medical care

215.261 - 217.553 -1.2 1.1 -

All items less shelter

206.869 - 208.540 -2.5 0.8 -

Commodities less food

145.691 - 147.714 -7.7 1.4 -

Nondurables

190.418 - 193.773 -5.0 1.8 -

Nondurables less food

174.995 - 181.222 -9.5 3.6 -

Services less rent of shelter (2)

295.597 - 298.057 0.8 0.8 -

Services less medical care services

271.534 - 274.947 1.4 1.3 -

Energy

204.359 205.602 206.517 -20.8 1.1 0.4

All items less energy

227.588 - 229.840 1.8 1.0 -

All items less food and energy

233.677 - 236.496 1.9 1.2 -

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