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In this activity, you will learn about inflation and price changes. When items increase in price, we call that inflation; when they decrease in price, we call it deflation. In general, prices have increased over time. Measuring inflation provides us with information about the buying power of a dollar. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) collects prices on products and services to develop a measure of inflation called the Consumer Price Index (CPI). BLS also publishes average prices collected for some food and utilities. Average prices are determined by adding all of the prices for a specific product or service we collect in one month and dividing by the total number of prices collected. This gives us a sense of what a person normally spends on a good or service.
After completing this activity, you will have a better understanding of inflation and how prices change over time. You will also be able to identify the BLS CPI program as a primary source of inflation data.
Think about prices that you have seen at stores for the items listed below and what you would expect to pay. Write down what you think the prices of these goods are now and what they were in a previous year (your teacher will tell you which year). You should also consider why the prices of these items have changed. Use the CPI BLS data to determine the current average price of commonly used goods. Then check to see how close your estimates are to BLS average price data. After this exercise, discuss prices, inflation, and the Consumer Price Index. More information about the CPI can be found on the CPI Frequently Asked Questions page.
1 lb white rice, uncooked
1 lb white bread
1 lb chocolate chip cookies
1 lb ground beef
1 lb bacon
1 dozen grade A large eggs
1 lb bananas
1/2 gallon ice cream
1 lb potato chips
1 gallon regular unleaded gas
Last Modified Date: January 10, 2019