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Consumer Price Index - August 2023

About This Release

Consumer Price Index
How the data are obtained Survey of businesses, Survey of households
Classification Commodity
Reference period


Program webpage

General Description

The Consumer Price Index is created from a series of interrelated surveys. Data are collected to reflect the goods and services that people buy for day-to-day living, such as food, clothing, shelter, transportation, and medical care. Prices are collected from housing units and businesses for 75 urban areas across the country each month.


  • Base period
    Period or point in time-used as a reference for comparison with some other period or point in time.
  • Inflation
    Rising prices of goods and services over time.
  • Seasonal adjustment
    Statistical modification designed to remove the influences of predictable patterns over a year in order to allow more consistent comparison across periods, including months and quarters.


  1. How is the Consumer Price Index calculated?

    The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a product of a series of interrelated samples. First, using data from the U.S. Census we select the urban areas from which data on prices are collected. Next, a sample of data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey identifies the places where households purchase various types of goods and services, forming the basis for the CPI outlet sample. Also using data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey, BLS statisticians assign quotes in the CPI item categories to specific outlets. A specific item is then chosen for selection using a process which bases the probability of selection for an item on the share the item composes within the outlet’s revenue in that item category.

    Recorded price changes are weighted by the importance of the item in the spending patterns of the appropriate population group. The combination of carefully selected geographic areas, retail establishments, commodities and services, and associated weight, gives a weighted measurement of price change for all items in all outlets, in all areas priced for the CPI.

    Additional information on how the CPI is calculated is available in the CPI section of the BLS Handbook of Methods.

  2. What goods and services does the Consumer Price Index cover?

    The Consumer Price Index (CPI) represents all goods and services purchased for consumption by the reference population (U or W). BLS has classified all expenditure items into more than 200 categories, arranged into eight major groups (food and beverages, housing, apparel, transportation, medical care, recreation, education and communication, and other goods and services). Included within these major groups are various government-charged user fees, such as water and sewerage charges, auto registration fees, and vehicle tolls.

    In addition, the CPI includes taxes (such as sales and excise taxes) that are directly associated with the prices of specific goods and services. However, the CPI excludes taxes (such as income and Social Security taxes) not directly associated with the purchase of consumer goods and services. The CPI also does not include investment items, such as stocks, bonds, real estate, and life insurance because these items relate to savings, and not to day-to-day consumption expenses.

    For each of the item categories, using scientific statistical procedures, the Bureau has chosen samples of several hundred specific items within selected business establishments frequented by consumers to represent the thousands of varieties available in the marketplace. For example, in a given supermarket, the Bureau may choose a plastic bag of golden delicious apples, U.S. extra fancy grade, weighing 4.4 pounds, to represent the apples category.

    Additional information about published items and item classification structure is available in the CPI section of the BLS Handbook of Methods.

  3. Which index is the "official Consumer Price Index" reported in the media?

    The broadest and most comprehensive Consumer Price Index (CPI) is called the All Items Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) for the U.S. City Average, 1982-84=100. CPI data are reported on a not seasonally adjusted basis as well as a seasonally adjusted basis. Sometimes the index level itself will be reported, but it is also common to see 1-monthor 12-month percent changes reported.

    In addition to the all items index, BLS publishes thousands of other consumer price indexes, such as all items less food and energy. Some users of CPI data use this index because food and energy prices are relatively volatile, and they want to focus on what they perceive to be the "core" or "underlying" rate of inflation.

  4. How do I read or interpret an index?

    An index is a tool that simplifies the measurement of movements in a numerical series. Most Consumer Price Index (CPI) index series have a 1982-84=100 reference base. That is, BLS sets the average index level (representing the average price level) for the 36-month period covering the years 1982, 1983, and 1984 equal to 100; then measures changes in relation to that figure. An index of 110, for example, means there has been a 10-percent increase in price since the reference period; similarly, an index of 90 means there has been a10-percent decrease. Movements of the index from one date to another can be expressed as changes in index points (simply, the difference between index levels), but it is more useful to express the movements as percent changes. This is because index points are affected by the level of the index in relation to its reference period, while percent changes are not.

    In the table that follows, Item A increased by half as many index points as Item B between Year I and Year II. Yet, because of different starting indexes, both items had the same percent change; that is, prices advanced at the same rate. By contrast, Items B and C show the same change in index points, but the percent change is greater for Item C because of its lower starting index value.

    Index change calculation
    Item AItem BItem C

    Year I


    Year II


    Change in index points

    Percent change

    9.0/112.500 x 100 = 8.018.0/225.000 x 100 = 8.018.0/110.000 x 100 = 16.4

  5. How can I get more information on the Consumer Price Index?

    Information on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is available from our website and through email subscriptions to data products, and a variety of publications. Information specialists are also available in the national and regional offices to provide assistance via email or telephone.

    Internet. BLS provides free access to published CPI data via press releases, tables, and current and historical data from our database.

    Social media. BLS has a stat for that! Follow us on Twitter to see the latest statistics that can help you make informed decisions, whether you’re a worker, jobseeker, student, employer, investor, or policymaker.

    Subscriptions. The latest U.S. average and local Consumer Price Indexes can be delivered directly to a subscriber's email address on the morning of their release. You can subscribe to our national news release or regional data products by using the BLS News Service feature.

    Publications. The Bureau produces several publications, such as the Monthly Labor Review (MLR) and Beyond the Numbers that you can search for articles related to the CPI.

    Recorded CPI data. Recorded summaries of national and local CPI data may be obtained by calling one of the following metropolitan area CPI hotlines. Recordings are approximately 3 minutes in length and are available 24hours a day, 7 days a week.

    Recorded information
    Metropolitan AreaPhone Number













    Kansas City


    Los Angeles


    New York










    San Diego


    San Francisco




    Washington DC


    Personal assistance. Additional information is available during normal working hours, Monday through Friday, by contacting the national office (Washington DC) or any of the regional offices listed below.

    Contact information
    OfficeEmailPhone number









    Kansas City


    New York




    San Francisco


    Washington DC (national office)


Technical Information