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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. (EST) January 14, 2020   USDL-20-0044

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

CONSUMER PRICE INDEX – DECEMBER 2019

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) rose 0.2 percent in 
December on a seasonally adjusted basis after rising 0.3 percent in November, 
the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, 
the all items index increased 2.3 percent before seasonal adjustment.

The indexes for gasoline, shelter, and medical care all rose in December, 
accounting for most of the increase in the seasonally adjusted all items index. 
The gasoline index increased 2.8 percent in December. Other major energy 
component indexes were mixed, and the energy index rose 1.4 percent. The food 
index rose 0.2 percent in December with the indexes for both food at home and 
food away from home increasing over the month.

The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.1 percent in December 
after increasing 0.2 percent in November. Along with the indexes for shelter 
and medical care, the indexes for apparel, motor vehicle insurance, recreation, 
and new vehicles all increased in December. The indexes for used cars and trucks, 
household furnishings and operations, and airline fares were among those to 
decline.    

The all items index increased 2.3 percent for the 12 months ending December, 
the largest 12-month increase since the period ending October 2018. The index 
for all items less food and energy also rose 2.3 percent over the last 12 months, 
the same increase as the periods ending October and November. The food index 
rose 1.8 percent over the last 12 months, while the energy index increased 3.4 
percent. 


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.
                              June  July  Aug.  Sep.  Oct.  Nov.  Dec.   ended 
                              2019  2019  2019  2019  2019  2019  2019   Dec.  
                                                                         2019  
									
All items..................	.1    .3    .1    .0	.4    .3    .2	    2.3
 Food......................	.0    .0    .0	  .1	.2    .1    .2	    1.8
  Food at home.............    -.2   -.1   -.2	  .0	.3    .1    .1	     .7
  Food away from home(1)...	.3    .2    .2	  .3	.2    .2    .3	    3.1
 Energy....................   -2.3   1.3  -1.9	-1.4   2.7    .8   1.4	    3.4
  Energy commodities.......   -3.5   2.4  -3.3	-2.3   3.5   1.1   2.8	    7.4
   Gasoline (all types)....   -3.6   2.5  -3.5	-2.4   3.7   1.1   2.8	    7.9
   Fuel oil................   -2.3    .6   -.9	 -.8	.8   1.4   1.6	    4.6
  Energy services..........    -.7    .0   -.2	 -.1   1.8    .4   -.3	   -1.2
   Electricity.............    -.8    .6   -.3	  .0   1.6    .3   -.5	    -.4
   Utility (piped) gas
      service..............    -.3  -1.8    .1	 -.7   2.4   1.1    .3	   -3.5
 All items less food and
    energy.................	.3    .3    .3	  .1	.2    .2    .1	    2.3
  Commodities less food and
     energy commodities....	.4    .2    .2	 -.3   -.1    .0    .0	     .1
   New vehicles............	.1   -.2   -.1	 -.1   -.2   -.1    .1	     .1
   Used cars and trucks....    1.6    .9   1.1	-1.6   1.3    .6   -.8	    -.7
   Apparel.................    1.1    .4    .2	 -.4  -1.8    .1    .4	   -1.2
   Medical care commodities    -.2    .2    .3	 -.6   1.2    .1   1.5	    2.5
  Services less energy
     services..............	.3    .3    .3	  .3	.2    .3    .2	    3.0
   Shelter.................	.3    .3    .2	  .3	.1    .3    .2	    3.2
   Transportation services	.0    .3    .4	  .3	.1    .0   -.3	     .6
   Medical care services...	.4    .5    .9	  .4	.9    .4    .4	    5.1
								
Footnotes:								
(1) Not seasonally adjusted.								


Food

The food index increased 0.2 percent in December after rising 0.1 percent in 
November. The index for food at home rose 0.1 percent, the same increase as the 
prior month. The index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs was the only major 
grocery store food group index to rise in December, increasing 1.3 percent as 
the index for beef rose 2.4 percent and the index for eggs increased 2.9 percent. 

In contrast, the index for cereals and bakery products fell 0.4 percent in 
December after rising in November. The index for nonalcoholic beverages also 
fell 0.4 percent, while the indexes for fruits and vegetables and for other food 
at home both declined 0.3 percent over the month. The index for dairy and related 
products was unchanged in December after rising in November.  

The index for food away from home rose 0.3 percent in December after rising 0.2 
percent in November. The index for limited service meals increased 0.4 percent, 
while the index for full service meals rose 0.2 percent. 

The food at home index increased 0.7 percent over the last 12 months. Five of 
the six major grocery store food group indexes rose over the past 12 months, 
with increases ranging from 0.3 percent (both cereals and bakery products and other 
food at home) to 2.4 percent (dairy and related products). The fruits and vegetables 
index declined over the span, falling 1.3 percent. The index for food away from home 
rose 3.1 percent over the last year. The index for full service meals increased 3.3 
percent and the index for limited service meals rose 3.0 percent.

Energy

The energy index increased 1.4 percent in December, its third consecutive monthly 
increase. The gasoline index rose 2.8 percent in December following a 1.1-percent 
rise in November. (Before seasonal adjustment, gasoline prices fell 1.6 percent in 
December.) The electricity index declined in December, falling 0.5 percent after 
rising in November. The index for natural gas increased 0.3 percent in December, 
its third monthly increase in a row. 

The energy index increased 3.4 percent over the past 12 months, with its major 
component indexes mixed. The gasoline index increased 7.9 percent and the fuel 
oil index rose 4.6 percent. However, the index for natural gas fell 3.5 percent 
and the index for electricity declined 0.4 percent.  
 
All items less food and energy

The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.1 percent in December after 
rising 0.2 percent in both October and November. The shelter index rose 0.2 percent 
in December, with the indexes for rent and for owners’ equivalent rent both increasing 
0.2 percent. The medical care index continued to rise, increasing 0.6 percent in 
December following a 0.3-percent increase in November. The prescription drugs index 
rose 2.1 percent, while the hospital services index increased 0.2 percent and the 
physicians’ services index advanced 0.1 percent. 

The apparel index rose 0.4 percent in December following a 0.1-percent increase in 
November. The index for motor vehicle insurance rose 0.2 percent after falling in 
November. The index for new vehicles rose 0.1 percent in December, ending a series 
of five consecutive monthly declines. The indexes for recreation and for education 
also increased 0.1 percent in December. 

The index for used cars and trucks fell 0.8 percent in December after rising in 
October and November. The index for household furnishings and operations declined 
0.4 percent in December, its largest monthly decline since December 2014. The index 
for airline fares fell 1.6 percent in December, its third consecutive monthly decline, 
and the index for personal care fell 0.2 percent.

The index for all items less food and energy rose 2.3 percent over the past 12 months. 
The shelter index rose 3.2 percent over the 12-month span, and the medical care index 
rose 4.6 percent. Apparel (-1.2 percent) and used cars and trucks (-0.7 percent) were 
among the few indexes to decline over the last year. 

Not seasonally adjusted CPI measures

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 2.3 percent over 
the last 12 months to an index level of 256.974 (1982-84=100). For the month, the index 
decreased 0.1 percent prior to seasonal adjustment.  

The Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) increased 
2.3 percent over the last 12 months to an index level of 250.452 (1982-84=100). For the 
month, the index decreased 0.1 percent prior to seasonal adjustment.  

The Chained Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (C-CPI-U) increased 2.1 percent 
over the last 12 months. For the month, the index decreased 0.1 percent on a not seasonally 
adjusted basis. Please note that the indexes for the past 10 to 12 months are subject to 
revision. 

Year in Review (December to December)

The all items CPI rose 2.3 percent in 2019. This was larger than the 2018 increase of 
1.9 percent and the largest advance since the 3.0-percent rise in 2011. The index rose 
at a 1.8-percent average annual rate over the last 10 years. 

The food index increased 1.8 percent in 2019, a slightly larger increase than the 2018 
rise of 1.6 percent. The index for food at home increased 0.7 percent in 2019, 
continuing a trend of modest increases; it rose 0.6 percent in 2018 and 0.9 percent 
in 2017. Over the last 10 years, the food index rose at an average annual rate of 1.8 
percent. The food at home index rose at a 1.3-percent annual rate, and the food away 
from home index increased at a 2.5-percent annual rate since December 2009. 

Five of the six major grocery store food group indexes increased in 2019. The index for 
dairy and related products rose 2.4 percent after falling 0.1 percent in 2018. Similarly, 
the index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs rose 2.3 percent in 2019 after falling 
in 2018. The index for nonalcoholic beverages rose 1.0 percent in 2019 after a 1.4-percent 
increase in 2018. The indexes for cereals and bakery products and for other food at home 
both rose 0.3 percent in 2019.

The index for fruits and vegetables declined in 2019, falling 1.3 percent after rising 
in 2018 and 2017. The indexes for fresh fruits and for fresh vegetables both declined 
over the year. 

The index for food away from home rose 3.1 percent in 2019. This was larger than the 
2.8-percent increase in 2018 and the largest December-to-December rise since 2008. 

The energy index rose 3.4 percent in 2019 after falling slightly in 2018. The gasoline 
index rose 7.9 percent over the year after falling 2.1 percent in 2018. The index for 
fuel oil rose 4.6 percent in 2019. These increases more than offset declines in the other 
major energy component indexes. The index for natural gas fell 3.5 percent in 2019 after 
rising in each of the prior 3 years. The electricity index declined 0.4 percent over the 
year, its first decline since 2015. The energy index increased at a 0.5-percent average 
annual rate over the past 10 years.    

The index for all items less food and energy rose 2.3 percent in 2019, a slightly larger 
increase than its 2018 rise of 2.2 percent and larger than its 1.9-percent average annual 
increase over the past 10 years. The shelter index rose 3.2 percent in 2019, the same 
increase as in both 2018 and 2017. The index for rent rose 3.7 percent in 2019, while the 
index for owners' equivalent rent increased 3.3 percent. The index for household furnishings 
and operations increased 1.0 percent in 2019 after rising 2.1 percent in 2018. 

The medical care index rose 4.6 percent in 2019, well above its 2.0-percent rise in 2018 
and the largest December-to-December advance since 2007. The index for prescription drugs 
rose 3.0 percent after falling 0.6 percent in 2018. The index for hospital services rose 
3.0 percent, while the physicians' services index increased 1.4 percent. The medical care 
index increased at a 3.0-percent average annual rate since December 2009. 

The index for motor vehicle insurance was unchanged in 2019 after rising in each of the 
past 20 years. The index for new vehicles rose 0.1 percent in 2019 after falling in 2018 
and 2017. The index for used cars and trucks declined 0.7 percent in 2019 after rising 
1.4 percent in 2018.  

The education index increased 2.1 percent in 2019 after a 2.6-percent rise in 2018. The 
index for communication increased 0.7 percent in 2019 after falling in each of the previous 
9 years. The index for airline fares rose 1.7 percent after falling in each of the previous 
6 years. The recreation index rose 1.5 percent in 2019, as did the personal care index. The 
index for tobacco increased 5.5 percent, and the alcoholic beverages index rose 0.5 percent. 
The apparel index declined for the sixth consecutive year, falling 1.2 percent. 

_______________
The Consumer Price Index for January 2020 is scheduled to be released on Thursday, February 
13, 2020 at 8:30 a.m. (EST). 


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-2019.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 2019, BLS adjusted 51 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 2019, revised seasonal factors and seasonally adjusted 
indexes for 2014 to 2018 were calculated and published. For series which are directly adjusted 
using the Census X-13ARIMA-SEATS seasonal adjustment software, the seasonal factors for 2018 will 
be applied to data for 2019 to produce the seasonally adjusted 2019 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-nine of the 81 components of the U.S. city average all items 
index are not seasonally adjusted for 2019.

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: January 14, 2020