CPI Methodology

BLS Handbook of Methods, Chapter 17, Consumer Price Indexes

OPLC Program Comparisons

Comparison of BLS Price and Spending Measures

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How is the CPI calculated?
  2. How is the CPI market basket determined?
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  4. How are CPI prices collected and reviewed?

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How BLS Measures Price Changes in the CPI for...

How BLS Measures Price Change in the Consumer Price Index for:

Articles and Research Papers


  • CPI research series using current methods
  • Reconciliation Between the CPI and PCE Price Index. The Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) undertook a joint project to detail and quantify the differences between the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) and the Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) Chain-type Price Index. A paper summarizing these differences can be found on the BEA website at www.bea.gov/papers/pdf/cpi_pce.pdf. The latest reconciliation tables can be found here.
  • Treatment of Owner-Occupied Housing in the CPI — Paper presented to the Federal Economic Statistics Advisory Committee (FESAC) on December 9, 2005 (PDF)
  • Guidelines for Quality Adjustment of New Vehicle Prices (PDF)
  • Experimental Consumer Price Index for Americans 62 years of Age and Older, 1982–2007 (Monthly Labor Review April 2008) (PDF)
  • Response Rates for the Consumer Price Indexes, 2010 (PDF)
  • Variance Estimates for Changes in the Consumer Price Index, January 2010–December 2010 (PDF)
  • Hedonic Quality Adjustment in the U.S. CPI (HTML)
  • Seasonal Adjustment in the U.S. CPI (HTML)
  • Pharmaceutical Pricing in the PPI, CPI, and IPP (PDF)

BLS Statistical Survey Papers

  • (2010) Defining an Outlet: What Characteristics are Truly Price Determining? (PDF)
  • (2010) Sampling and Weighting of Commodity and Service Units for the Elementary Level of Computation of the U.S. Consumer Price Index (PDF)
  • (2010) Improving the Preliminary Values of the Chained CPI-U (PDF)
  • (2007) Reduction of Sample Areas in the Consumer Price Index and Consumer Expenditure Survey Designs (PDF)
  • (2007) Empirical Evaluation of X-11 and Model-based Seasonal Adjustment Methods (PDF)
  • (2006) Evaluation of X-11 and Model-based Seasonal Adjustment Methods for Economic Time Series (PDF)
  • (2006) A Spatial Analysis of Price Change in the Housing Component of the Consumer Price Index (PDF)
  • (2006) Comparison between Chained CPI-U and Regular CPI-U All-US Indexes in the Housing Sector (2000–2004) (PDF)
  • (2006) Evaluating a Calibration Weighting Scheme for Elementary Indexes for Commodities and Services in the U.S. Consumer Price Index (PDF)
  • (2006) Estimating Dynamic Price Indexes (PDF)
  • (2005) The Effect of Attrition on Variance and Index Estimates in the Housing Component of the Consumer Price Index (PDF)
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  • (2005) Comparison between Chained CPI-U and Regular CPI-U: All-U.S. Indexes at Lower Item-aggregate Levels (2000–2003) (PDF)
  • (2002) A Note on the Effects of Extreme Price Values on Price Indexes (PDF)
  • (1993) Some Issues in Seasonal Adjustment When Modeling Interventions (PDF)

Monthly Labor Review Articles on CPI Methodology


CPI Working Papers

  • (2010) Do the Poor Pay More Store-By-Store? (HTML)
  • (2010) Note on Standard Errors and Other Relevant Statistics of Experimental Poverty Thresholds Produced at the Bureau of Labor Statistics: 2006 to 2008 (PDF)
  • (2009) Reconsideration of Weighting and Updating Procedures in the US CPI (HTML)
  • (2009) The Puzzling Divergence of Rents and User Costs, 1980–2004 (HTML)
  • (2008) New Evidence on Outlet Substitution Effects in Consumer Price Index (HTML)
  • (2008) Creating a Consistent Poverty Measure over Time Using NAS Procedures: 1996-2005 (HTML)
  • (2007) Household Spending Patterns: A Comparison of Four Census Regions (HTML)
  • (2007) Improving the CPI's Age-Bias Adjustment: Leverage, Disaggregation and Model Averaging (HTML)
  • (2007) Explaining the Rent-OER Inflation Divergence, 1999–2006 (HTML)
  • (2006) The Effects of Rounding on the Consumer Price Index (HTML)
  • (2003) Alternative Consumer Price Index Aggregations: Plutocratic and Democratic Approaches (HTML)
  • (2002) An Examination of the Difference Between the CPI and the PCE Deflator (HTML)
  • (2002) Constructing Household Specific Consumer Price Indexes: An Analysis of Different Techniques and Methods (HTML)
  • (2001) Random Errors and Superlative Indexes (HTML)
  • (2001) Using Hedonic Methods for Quality Adjustment in the CPI: The Consumer Audio Products Component (HTML)
  • (2001) The Used Car Price Index: A Checkup and Suggested Repairs (HTML)
  • (2001) Quality Adjusted Price Indexes for Four Year Colleges (HTML)
  • (1999) Small Sample Bias in Geometric Mean and Seasoned CPI Component Indexes (HTML)
  • (1996) Bias in the Consumer Price Index: What Is the Evidence (HTML)
  • (1996) Price Dispersion and Cost-of-Living Indexes (HTML)
  • (1995) Improvement to the Food at Home, Shelter, and Prescription Drug Indexes in the U.S. Consumer Price Index (HTML)

Special Notices

Seasonal adjustment in the CPI, our page on seasonal adjustment.

Further Information

For further assistance contact the CPI Section of Index Analysis and Public Information at cpi_info@bls.gov or (202) 691-7000.


Last Modified Date: August 14, 2017