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Consumer Price Index
Bureau of Labor Statistics > Consumer Price Index > Methods > Additional Resources

The impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the Consumer Price Index data for March 2020

The impact of the current pandemic on Consumer Price Index (CPI) data was relatively minor for March 2020 data published on April 10, 2020. The response rates for March 2020 data and March 2019 data for both the Commodities and Services Price (C&S) Survey and the Housing Survey are shown in tables 1 and 2 below.

Table 1. Response outcomes for the commodities and services price survey.
March 2019 March 2020

Collected prices

87% 75%

Uncollected prices

13% 25%

Collection mode:

  Personal visit

67% 37%

  Telephone

9% 12%

  Online

14% 35%

  Other (1)

9% 16%

Footnotes:
(1) Includes prices used in index collection not designed to be obtained via field collection, such as corporately provided data and sample collected by the national office.

While a decrease in personal visit collection for the C&S survey in March 2020 was realized, an increase in other collection modes, namely online data collection resulted. An example of this is full-service restaurants; if a restaurant was closed for dine-in service, but open for take-out or delivery, the data collector attempted to obtain the price from the restaurant’s website or by telephone call with the respondent, rather than a personal visit.

The March 2019 and March 2020 data in the housing table were revised to reflect the use of on-panel quotes only. The revised table is below.

Table 2. Response outcomes for the housing survey.
March 2019 March 2020

Collected rents

67% 63%

Vacant units

6% 5%

Uncollected rents

27% 32%

Collection mode:

  Personal visit

36% 30%

  Telephone

64% 70%

For some CPI market basket categories, the percentage of the sample collected in March 2020 was notably lower than a typical monthly experience. These include hospital services, admissions (to things like sporting events and concerts), new vehicles, fees for participant sports, household paper products, and alcoholic beverages away from home. 

A list of data series that are inadequate for publication in March 2020 due to insufficient sample that were adequate over the previous year, are shown in table 3 below.

Table 3. List of data inadequate for publication for March 2020.
LABSTAT ID Item Area

CPI-U Series

  CUURS11ASETA

New and used motor vehicles Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH

  CUURS11ASETA01

New vehicles Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH

CPI-W Series

  CWURS11ASATCLTB

Transportation commodities less motor fuel Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH

  CWURS11ASETA

New and used motor vehicles Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH

  CWURS11ASETA01

New vehicles Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH

  CWURS24ASAGC

Other goods Minneapolis-St.Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI

C-CPI-U Series

  No series were inadequate for publication for March 2020.

AP Series

  APU0000706311

Turkey, frozen, whole, per lb. (453.6 gm) U.S. city average

  APU0000711411

Grapefruit, per lb. (453.6 gm) U.S. city average

  APU0000711412

Lemons, per lb. (453.6 gm) U.S. city average

  APU0000712112

Potatoes, white, per lb. (453.6 gm) U.S. city average

  APU0000712211

Lettuce, iceberg, per lb. (453.6 gm) U.S. city average

  APU0000712311

Tomatoes, field grown, per lb. (453.6 gm) U.S. city average

  APU0000FL2101

Lettuce, romaine, per lb. (453.6 gm) U.S. city average

  APU0100711311

Oranges, Navel, per lb. (453.6 gm) Northeast

  APU0100711411

Grapefruit, per lb. (453.6 gm) Northeast

  APU0100711412

Lemons, per lb. (453.6 gm) Northeast

  APU0100712112

Potatoes, white, per lb. (453.6 gm) Northeast

  APU0100718311

Potato chips, per 16 oz. Northeast

  APU0200711412

Lemons, per lb. (453.6 gm) Midwest

  APU0300701312

Rice, white, long grain, uncooked, per lb. (453.6 gm) South

  APU0300711411

Grapefruit, per lb. (453.6 gm) South

  APU0300712112

Potatoes, white, per lb. (453.6 gm) South

  APU0300712211

Lettuce, iceberg, per lb. (453.6 gm) South

  APU0300720311

Wine, red and white table, all sizes, any origin, per 1 liter (33.8 oz) South

  APU0300FL2101

Lettuce, romaine, per lb. (453.6 gm) South

  APU0400711411

Grapefruit, per lb. (453.6 gm) West

  APU0400712112

Potatoes, white, per lb. (453.6 gm) West

  APU0400714233

Beans, dried, any type, all sizes, per lb. (453.6 gm) West

  APU0400FL2101

Lettuce, romaine, per lb. (453.6 gm) West

Last Modified Date: May 11, 2020