Consumer Price Index Geographic Revision for 2018

Starting in 2002, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) moved away from comprehensive revisions implemented every ten years or so in favor of incremental updates implemented on an ongoing basis. For example, expenditure weight updates are now introduced every two years, and item structure changes occur whenever they are deemed appropriate given changes in the marketplace. One element of the CPI that has not seen more frequent revisions, however, is the geographic sample.

In January 2018, BLS will introduce a new geographic area sample for the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The last time the sample was revised was in 1998. The new sample consists of 75 urban areas—large, medium, and small. There are 87 urban areas in the current sample.

Changes to the Geographic Structure

The CPI geographic sample is selected to be representative of the demographics of the United States. The 2018 revision utilizes the 2010 Decennial Census and it incorporates an updated area sample design, changes the frequency of publication for several local area indexes, and establishes some new local area and aggregate indexes. It also introduces Census division-level indexes.

Core Based Statistical Areas

For the 2018 revision, primary sampling units (PSUs) are defined using Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Core Based Statistical Area (CBSA) definitions. This is different from the previous definition of PSUs as metropolitan statistical areas.

Table 1. Publication differences between the old and the new geographic sample designs
  Number of areas published Number of areas published monthly Number of areas published bimonthly Number of areas published semi-annually

Old design

27 3 11 13

New design

23 3 20 0

Riverside, CA, which was previously included in the Los Angeles-Riverside-Orange County, CA MSA, will now be its own CBSA, and will be considered a new index, starting at 100.000. The combined Washington-Baltimore index (one of the bimonthly indexes) will be discontinued. The Washington and Baltimore areas will be independent CBSAs. The new CBSAs for Washington and Baltimore will be considered continuous with the independent areas Washington (A312) and Baltimore (A313) under the old schedule. Existing indexes for A312 and A313, not previously published for January 1998-December 2017, will be published, with a footnote to indicate that indexes are based on a substantially smaller sample, and allowing the post-revision indexes to be continuous back to 1914.

Under the old design, indexes were published for Pittsburgh PA, Cincinnati-Hamilton OH-KY-IN, Cleveland-Akron OH, Milwaukee-Racine WI, and Portland-Salem OR-WA. Because they did not meet a population threshold, they will not be published under the new design. In addition, the index for Kansas City MO-KS will no longer be published because it was not selected as part of the sample.

Table 2. Publication list of CBSAs including publication frequency and schedule
New CBSA Old MSA New Publication Old Publication
Frequency Schedule Frequency Schedule

Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI

Chicago-Gary-Kenosha, IL-IN-WI Monthly Monthly Monthly Monthly

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA

Los Angeles-Riverside-Orange County, CA Monthly Monthly Monthly Monthly

New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA

New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-CT-PA Monthly Monthly Monthly Monthly

Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA

Atlanta, GA Bimonthly Even months Bimonthly Even months

Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD

Washington-Baltimore, DC-MD- VA-WV Bimonthly Even months Bimonthly Odd months

Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH

Boston-Brockton-Nashua, MA-NH- ME-CT Bimonthly Odd months Bimonthly Odd months

Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX

Dallas-Fort Worth, TX Bimonthly Odd months Bimonthly Odd months

Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO

Denver-Boulder-Greeley, CO Bimonthly Odd months Semi-annual Semi-annual

Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI

Detroit-Ann Arbor-Flint, MI Bimonthly Even months Bimonthly Even months

Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX

Houston-Galveston-Brazoria, TX Bimonthly Even months Bimonthly Even months

Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL

Miami-Fort Lauderdale, FL Bimonthly Even months Bimonthly Even months

Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI

Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN-WI Bimonthly Odd months Semi-annual Semi-annual

Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD

Philadelphia-Wilmington- Atlantic City, PA-NJ-DE-MD Bimonthly Even months Bimonthly Even months

Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ

Phoenix-Mesa, AZ Bimonthly Even months Semi-annual Semi-annual

Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA

Los Angeles-Riverside-Orange County, CA Bimonthly Odd months Monthly Monthly

San Diego-Carlsbad, CA

San Diego, CA Bimonthly Odd months Semi-annual Semi-annual

San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA

San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, CA Bimonthly Even months Bimonthly Even months

Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA

Seattle-Tacoma-Bremerton, WA Bimonthly Even months Bimonthly Even months

St. Louis, MO-IL

St. Louis, MO-IL Bimonthly Even months Semi-annual Semi-annual

Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL

Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL Bimonthly Odd months Semi-annual Semi-annual

Urban Alaska

Anchorage, AK Bimonthly Even months Semi-annual Semi-annual

Urban Hawaii

Honolulu, HI Bimonthly Odd months Semi-annual Semi-annual

Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV

Washington-Baltimore, DC-MD- VA-WV Bimonthly Odd months Bimonthly Odd months

Region, division, and size-class indexes

Two additional major changes with the new design are: (1) the number of size classes and (2) the publication of Census division-level indexes in addition to the current Census region-level indexes. Under the area redesign, the CPI now has two size classes, A and B/C (corresponding to population size greater than 2,500,000 for size class A and 2,500,000 or less for size class B/C), rather than the three size classes under the old design (A, B/C, and D, with population size of more than 1,500,000 for size class A, 50,000 to 1,500,000 for size class B/C, and less than 50,000 for size class D). The current size class B/C and size class D are consolidated in order to reduce small sample bias and to reduce the standard error of indexes.

Census regions are now split into divisions, three in the South and two each in the Northeast, Midwest, and West.

Table 3. Published monthly region and division indexes in 2018
  Northeast Midwest South West
Divisions


 
New England East North Central South Atlantic Mountain
  Middle Atlantic West North Central East South Central Pacific
      West South Central  

BLS will continue to publish monthly region-size class indexes for A-sized and B/C-sized cities in the four regions. Additional information is available in the Monthly Labor Review article The 2018 revision of the Consumer Price Index geographic sample.

Publication of additional items below the national level

The following items will be published at the region, division, and area level. Series for new areas will have a base period of December 2017=100; base periods for continuing areas will vary by area.

Table 4. Newly published items below the national level
Item name Item code

Cereal and bakery products

SAF111

Meats, poultry, fish, and eggs

SAF112

Dairy and related products

SEFJ

Fruits and vegetables

SAF113

Nonalcoholic beverages

SAF114

Other food at home

SAF115

New and used motor vehicles

SETA (1)

New vehicles

SETA01 (1)

Used cars and trucks

SETA02 (1)

Motor vehicle insurance

SETE

Tuition, other school fees, and child care

SEEB

Footnotes:
(1) Currently published at the region level.
 

Additional Documents:

  • 2018 Geographic Revision Area Concordance (XLSX)
  • Post-2018 Geographic Revision Mock-Up of CPI Press Release Table 4 (PDF)

Last Modified Date: December 6, 2017