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Economic News Release
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CPI CPI Program Links

Consumer Price Index Summary

 

 Transmission of material in this release is embargoed until                                        
 8:30 a.m. (ET) September 11, 2020              USDL-20-1693

 Technical information: (202) 691-7000  •  cpi_info@bls.gov  •  www.bls.gov/cpi
 Media Contact:         (202) 691-5902  •  PressOffice@bls.gov 

 CONSUMER PRICE INDEX – AUGUST 2020
 
 The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.4 percent
 in August on a seasonally adjusted basis after rising 0.6 percent in July, the
 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, the all
 items index increased 1.3 percent before seasonal adjustment.
 
 The monthly increase in the seasonally adjusted all items index was broad-based;
 a sharp rise in the used cars and trucks index was the largest factor, but the
 indexes for gasoline, shelter, recreation, and household furnishings and
 operations also contributed. The energy index rose 0.9 percent in August as the
 gasoline index rose 2.0 percent. The food index rose 0.1 percent in August after
 falling in July; an increase in the food away from home index more than offset a
 slight decline in the food at home index.  

 The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.4 percent in August after
 increasing 0.6 percent in July. The sharp rise in the index for used cars and
 trucks accounted for over 40 percent of the increase; the indexes for shelter,
 recreation, household furnishings and operations, apparel, motor vehicle
 insurance, and airline fares also rose. The indexes for education and personal
 care were among the few to decline. 

 The all items index increased 1.3 percent for the 12 months ending August; this
 figure has been rising since the period ending May 2020, when the 12-month
 increase was 0.1 percent. The index for all items less food and energy increased
 1.7 percent over the last 12 months. The food index increased 4.1 percent over the
 last 12 months, with the index for food at home rising 4.6 percent. Despite recent
 monthly increases, the energy index fell 9.0 percent over the last 12 months. 


 Table A. Percent changes in CPI for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U): U.S. city
 average
                                                                               
                                                                               
                                  Seasonally adjusted changes from             
                                          preceding month                      
                                                                          Un-  
                                                                       adjusted
                                                                        12-mos.
                              Feb.  Mar.  Apr.  May   June  July  Aug.   ended 
                              2020  2020  2020  2020  2020  2020  2020   Aug.  
                                                                         2020  
                                                                               
                                                                               
 All items..................    .1   -.4   -.8   -.1    .6    .6    .4      1.3
  Food......................    .4    .3   1.5    .7    .6   -.4    .1      4.1
   Food at home.............    .5    .5   2.6   1.0    .7  -1.1   -.1      4.6
   Food away from home (1)..    .2    .2    .1    .4    .5    .5    .3      3.5
  Energy....................  -2.0  -5.8 -10.1  -1.8   5.1   2.5    .9     -9.0
   Energy commodities.......  -3.5 -10.4 -20.0  -3.5  11.7   5.3   2.0    -16.7
    Gasoline (all types)....  -3.4 -10.5 -20.6  -3.5  12.3   5.6   2.0    -16.8
    Fuel oil................  -8.5 -13.7 -15.6  -6.3  10.2   4.3   3.9    -23.6
   Energy services..........   -.3   -.5    .1   -.5   -.2    .0   -.2      -.1
    Electricity.............   -.1   -.2    .1   -.8   -.3    .3   -.2      -.1
    Utility (piped) gas                                                        
       service..............   -.9  -1.4    .2    .8    .0  -1.0   -.2      -.5
  All items less food and                                                      
     energy.................    .2   -.1   -.4   -.1    .2    .6    .4      1.7
   Commodities less food and                                                   
      energy commodities....    .2   -.3   -.7   -.2    .2    .7   1.0       .4
    New vehicles............    .1   -.4    .0    .3    .0    .8    .0       .7
    Used cars and trucks....    .4    .8   -.4   -.4  -1.2   2.3   5.4      4.0
    Apparel.................    .4  -2.0  -4.7  -2.3   1.7   1.1    .6     -5.9
    Medical care commodities   -.6    .0   -.1    .1    .2    .0   -.1       .8
   Services less energy                                                        
      services..............    .2    .0   -.4    .0    .3    .6    .2      2.2
    Shelter.................    .3    .0    .0    .2    .1    .2    .1      2.3
    Transportation services     .3  -1.9  -4.7  -3.6   2.1   3.6    .0     -4.0
    Medical care services...    .3    .5    .5    .6    .5    .5    .1      5.3

   1 Not seasonally adjusted.


 Food
 
 The food index rose 0.1 percent in August after falling in July. The index for
 food at home fell slightly in August, decreasing 0.1 percent after falling
 1.1 percent the prior month. The August decline was mostly caused by the index
 for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs, which fell 1.7 percent in August, its second
 consecutive monthly decline after sharp increases in prior months. The beef index
 fell 4.4 percent in August after declining 8.2 percent in July. The cereals and
 bakery products index also declined in August, falling 0.2 percent.  

 The remaining four major grocery store food group indexes increased in August.
 The index for dairy and related products rose 1.5 percent in August after declining
 in June and July. The index for other food at home rose 0.5 percent in August, the
 index for fruits and vegetables rose 0.2 percent, and the index for nonalcoholic
 beverages advanced 0.1 percent. 

 The index for food away from home continued to rise in August, although its
 0.3-percent increase was the smallest monthly increase since April. The index for
 limited service meals advanced 0.4 percent in August after rising 0.6 percent in
 July. The index for full service meals increased 0.1 percent in August following a
 0.4-percent increase in July.

 The food at home index increased 4.6 percent over the last 12 months. All six major
 grocery store food group indexes rose over that span. The index for meats, poultry,
 fish, and eggs rose 7.1 percent over the last year as the index for beef increased
 9.6 percent. Increases in the other groups ranged from 2.7 percent (fruits and
 vegetables) to 5.7 percent (dairy and related products). The index for food away
 from home rose 3.5 percent over the last year. The index for limited service meals
 increased 4.8 percent and the index for full service meals rose 2.8 percent over
 the last 12 months.

 Energy

 The energy index rose 0.9 percent in August, its third consecutive increase. The
 gasoline index continued to rise, increasing 2.0 percent in August after rising
 5.6 percent in July. (Before seasonal adjustment, gasoline prices were unchanged in
 August.) The index for electricity decreased 0.2 percent in August after rising in
 July. The index for natural gas also declined, falling 0.2 percent in August after
 a 1.0-percent decrease in July.  
 
 The energy index fell 9.0 percent over the past 12 months. The gasoline index
 decreased 16.8 percent, while the fuel oil index fell 23.6 percent. The index for
 natural gas declined 0.5 percent and the index for electricity decreased slightly
 over the year, falling 0.1 percent.

 All items less food and energy

 The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.4 percent in August after
 rising 0.6 percent in July. The index for used cars and trucks increased 5.4 percent
 in August, its largest monthly increase since March 1969. The shelter index increased
 in August, rising 0.1 percent, with the indexes for rent and owners’ equivalent rent
 both rising 0.1 percent. 

 The recreation index increased 0.7 percent in August after falling in June and July.
 The index for household furnishings and operations increased 0.9 percent, its largest
 monthly increase since February 1991, as the index for furniture and bedding rose
 1.6 percent and the index for appliances increased 2.0 percent. The apparel index
 rose 0.6 percent in August, its third consecutive monthly increase. The index for
 motor vehicle insurance rose 0.5 percent, and the index for airline fares increased
 1.2 percent over the month.

 The index for medical care rose slightly in August, increasing 0.1 percent. The
 indexes for hospital services and for physicians’ services both rose 0.1 percent,
 while the index for prescription drugs declined 0.2 percent. The new vehicles index
 was unchanged in August after rising in July. The education index decreased
 0.3 percent in August, the first decline in the history of the index, which dates
 to 1993. The personal care index also fell 0.3 percent in August after rising the
 last 2 months.   

 The index for all items less food and energy rose 1.7 percent over the past 12 months.
 The shelter index rose 2.3 percent, and the medical care index increased 4.5 percent
 over the last 12 months. Indexes that declined over the 12-month span include apparel
 (-5.9 percent), airline fares (-23.2 percent), and motor vehicle insurance
 (-1.5 percent). 

 Not seasonally adjusted CPI measures

 The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 1.3 percent over
 the last 12 months to an index level of 259.918 (1982-84=100). For the month, the
 index rose 0.3 percent prior to seasonal adjustment.  

 The Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W)
 increased 1.4 percent over the last 12 months to an index level of 253.597
 (1982-84=100). For the month, the index rose 0.4 percent prior to seasonal
 adjustment.  

 The Chained Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (C-CPI-U) increased
 1.0 percent over the last 12 months. For the month, the index increased 0.3 percent
 on a not seasonally adjusted basis. Please note that the indexes for the past 10 to
 12 months are subject to revision. 

 _______________
 The Consumer Price Index for September 2020 is scheduled to be released on Tuesday,
 October 13, 2020 at 8:30 a.m. (ET).
 
 
 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Impact on August 2020 Consumer Price Index Data

 Data collection by personal visit for the Consumer Price Index (CPI) program has been suspended
 since March 16, 2020. When possible, data normally collected by personal visit were collected either
 online or by phone. Additionally, data collection in August was affected by the temporary closing or
 limited operations of certain types of establishments. These factors resulted in an increase in the
 number of prices considered temporarily unavailable and imputed. While the CPI program attempted to
 collect as much data as possible, many indexes are based on smaller amounts of collected prices
 than usual, and a small number of indexes that are normally published were not published this month.
 Additional information is available at
 www.bls.gov/covid19/effects-of-covid-19-pandemic-on-consumer-price-index.htm.
 
 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
 
 Technical Note
 
 Brief Explanation of the CPI
 
 The Consumer Price Index (CPI) measures the change in prices paid by consumers
 for goods and services. The CPI reflects spending patterns for each of two
 population groups: all urban consumers and urban wage earners and clerical
 workers. The all urban consumer group represents about 93 percent of the total
 U.S. population. It is based on the expenditures of almost all residents of
 urban or metropolitan areas, including professionals, the self-employed, the poor,
 the unemployed, and retired people, as well as urban wage earners and clerical
 workers. Not included in the CPI are the spending patterns of people living in
 rural nonmetropolitan areas, farming families, people in the Armed Forces, and
 those in institutions, such as prisons and mental hospitals. Consumer inflation
 for all urban consumers is measured by two indexes, namely, the Consumer Price
 Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) and the Chained Consumer Price Index for
 All Urban Consumers (C-CPI-U).
 
 The Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) is
 based on the expenditures of households included in the CPI-U definition that
 meet two requirements: more than one-half of the household's income must come
 from clerical or wage occupations, and at least one of the household's earners
 must have been employed for at least 37 weeks during the previous 12 months.
 The CPI-W population represents about 29 percent of the total U.S. population
 and is a subset of the CPI-U population.
 
 The CPIs are based on prices of food, clothing, shelter, fuels, transportation,
 doctors’ and dentists’ services, drugs, and other goods and services that people
 buy for day-to-day living. Prices are collected each month in 75 urban areas
 across the country from about 6,000 housing units and approximately 22,000 retail
 establishments (department stores, supermarkets, hospitals, filling stations, and
 other types of stores and service establishments). All taxes directly associated
 with the purchase and use of items are included in the index. Prices of fuels and
 a few other items are obtained every month in all 75 locations. Prices of most
 other commodities and services are collected every month in the three largest
 geographic areas and every other month in other areas. Prices of most goods and
 services are obtained by personal visits or telephone calls by the Bureau’s
 trained representatives.
 
 In calculating the index, price changes for the various items in each location
 are aggregated using weights, which represent their importance in the spending
 of the appropriate population group. Local data are then combined to obtain a
 U.S. city average. For the CPI-U and CPI-W, separate indexes are also published
 by size of city, by region of the country, for cross-classifications of regions
 and population-size classes, and for 23 selected local areas. Area indexes do not
 measure differences in the level of prices among cities; they only measure the
 average change in prices for each area since the base period. For the C-CPI-U,
 data are issued only at the national level. The CPI-U and CPI-W are considered
 final when released, but the C-CPI-U is issued in preliminary form and subject to
 three subsequent quarterly revisions.
 
 The index measures price change from a designed reference date. For most of the
 CPI-U and the CPI-W, the reference base is 1982-84 equals 100. The reference base
 for the C-CPI-U is December 1999 equals 100.  An increase of 7 percent from the
 reference base, for example, is shown as 107.000. Alternatively, that relationship
 can also be expressed as the price of a base period market basket of goods and
 services rising from $100 to $107.
 
 Sampling Error in the CPI
 
 The CPI is a statistical estimate that is subject to sampling error because it is
 based upon a sample of retail prices and not the complete universe of all prices.
 BLS calculates and publishes estimates of the 1-month, 2-month, 6-month, and 12-
 month percent change standard errors annually for the CPI-U. These standard error
 estimates can be used to construct confidence intervals for hypothesis testing.
 For example, the estimated standard error of the 1-month percent change is 0.03
 percent for the U.S. all items CPI. This means that if we repeatedly sample from
 the universe of all retail prices using the same methodology, and estimate a
 percentage change for each sample, then 95 percent of these estimates will be
 within 0.06 percent of the 1-month percentage change based on all retail prices.
 For example, for a 1-month change of 0.2 percent in the all items CPI-U, we are
 95 percent confident that the actual percent change based on all retail prices
 would fall between 0.14 and 0.26 percent. For the latest data, including
 information on how to use the estimates of standard error, see
 https://www.bls.gov/cpi/tables/variance-estimates/home.htm.
 
 Calculating Index Changes
 
 Movements of the indexes from 1 month to another are usually expressed as percent
 changes rather than changes in index points, because index point changes are
 affected by the level of the index in relation to its base period, while percent
 changes are not.
 
 The following table shows an example of using index values to calculate percent
 changes:
  
                                Item A                  Item B                      Item C
 Year I                         112.500                 225.000                     110.000
 Year II                        121.500                 243.000                     128.000
 Change in index points         9.000                   18.000                      18.000
 Percent change                 9.0/112.500 x 100 = 8.0  18.0/225.000 x 100 = 8.0   18.0/110.000 x 100 = 16.4
 Use of Seasonally Adjusted and Unadjusted Data
 
 The Consumer Price Index (CPI) produces both unadjusted and seasonally adjusted data.
 Seasonally adjusted data are computed using seasonal factors derived by the X-13ARIMA-
 SEATS seasonal adjustment method. These factors are updated each February, and the new
 factors are used to revise the previous 5 years of seasonally adjusted data. The factors
 are available at www.bls.gov/cpi/tables/seasonal-adjustment/seasonal-factors-2020.pdf.
 For more information on data revision scheduling, please see the Factsheet on Seasonal
 Adjustment at www.bls.gov/cpi/seasonal-adjustment/questions-and-answers.htm and the
 Timeline of Seasonal Adjustment Methodological Changes at
 www.bls.gov/cpi/seasonal-adjustment/timeline-seasonal-adjustment-methodology-changes.htm.
 
 For analyzing short-term price trends in the economy, seasonally adjusted changes are
 usually preferred since they eliminate the effect of changes that normally occur at the
 same time and in about the same magnitude every year—such as price movements resulting
 from weather events, production cycles, model changeovers, holidays, and sales. This
 allows data users to focus on changes that are not typical for the time of year. The
 unadjusted data are of primary interest to consumers concerned about the prices they
 actually pay. Unadjusted data are also used extensively for escalation purposes. Many
 collective bargaining contract agreements and pension plans, for example, tie compensation
 changes to the Consumer Price Index before adjustment for seasonal variation. BLS advises
 against the use of seasonally adjusted data in escalation agreements because seasonally
 adjusted series are revised annually.
 
 Intervention Analysis
 
 The Bureau of Labor Statistics uses intervention analysis seasonal adjustment for some
 CPI series. Sometimes extreme values or sharp movements can distort the underlying seasonal
 pattern of price change. Intervention analysis seasonal adjustment is a process by which
 the distortions caused by such unusual events are estimated and removed from the data prior
 to calculation of seasonal factors. The resulting seasonal factors, which more accurately 
 represent the seasonal pattern, are then applied to the unadjusted data.
 
 For example, this procedure was used for the motor fuel series to offset the effects of the
 2009 return to normal pricing after the worldwide economic downturn in 2008. Retaining this
 outlier data during seasonal factor calculation would distort the computation of the seasonal
 portion of the time series data for motor fuel, so it was estimated and removed from the data
 prior to seasonal adjustment. Following that, seasonal factors were calculated based on this
 “prior adjusted” data. These seasonal factors represent a clearer picture of the seasonal
 pattern in the data. The last step is for motor fuel seasonal factors to be applied to the
 unadjusted data.
 
 For the seasonal factors introduced for January 2020, BLS adjusted 53 series using intervention
 analysis seasonal adjustment, including selected food and beverage items, motor fuels,
 electricity, and vehicles.
 
 Revision of Seasonally Adjusted Indexes
 
 Seasonally adjusted data, including the U.S. city average all items index levels, are subject
 to revision for up to 5 years after their original release. Every year, economists in the CPI
 calculate new seasonal factors for seasonally adjusted series and apply them to the last 5 years
 of data. Seasonally adjusted indexes beyond the last 5 years of data are considered to be final
 and not subject to revision. For January 2020, revised seasonal factors and seasonally adjusted
 indexes for 2015 to 2019 were calculated and published. For series which are directly adjusted
 using the Census X-13ARIMA-SEATS seasonal adjustment software, the seasonal factors for 2019
 will be applied to data for 2020 to produce the seasonally adjusted 2020 indexes. Series which
 are indirectly seasonally adjusted by summing seasonally adjusted component series have seasonal
 factors which are derived and are therefore not available in advance.
 
 Determining Seasonal Status
 
 Each year the seasonal status of every series is reevaluated based upon certain statistical
 criteria. Using these criteria, BLS economists determine whether a series should change its
 status from "not seasonally adjusted" to "seasonally adjusted", or vice versa. If any of the
 81 components of the U.S. city average all items index change their seasonal adjustment status
 from seasonally adjusted to not seasonally adjusted, not seasonally adjusted data will be used
 in the aggregation of the dependent series for the last 5 years, but the seasonally adjusted
 indexes before that period will not be changed. Twenty-eight of the 81 components of the U.S.
 city average all items index are not seasonally adjusted for 2020.
 
 Contact Information
 
 For additional information about the CPI visit www.bls.gov/cpi or contact the CPI Information
 and Analysis Section at 202-691-7000 or cpi_info@bls.gov.
 
 For additional information on seasonal adjustment in the CPI visit
 www.bls.gov/cpi/seasonal-adjustment/home.htm or contact the CPI seasonal adjustment section at
 202-691-6968 or cpiseas@bls.gov.
 
 Information from this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon
 request. Voice phone: 202-691-5200; Federal Relay Service: 1-800-877-8339.


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Last Modified Date: September 11, 2020