Consumer Price Index Summary

 Transmission of material in this release is embargoed until                                        
 8:30 a.m. (EDT) April 10, 2019               USDL-19-0611

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

 CONSUMER PRICE INDEX – MARCH 2019

 The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.4 percent 
 in March on a seasonally adjusted basis after rising 0.2 percent in February, 
 the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, 
 the all items index increased 1.9 percent before seasonal adjustment.

 The energy index increased 3.5 percent in March, accounting for about 60 
 percent of the seasonally adjusted all items monthly increase. The gasoline 
 index increased sharply, and the electricity index also rose, although the 
 natural gas index declined. The food index also increased in March, with the 
 indexes for food at home and food away from home both continuing to rise.

 The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.1 percent in March, 
 the same increase as in February. The indexes for shelter, medical care, new 
 vehicles, recreation, education, and tobacco were among those that increased 
 in March, while the indexes for apparel, used cars and trucks, and airline 
 fares all declined.  

 The all items index increased 1.9 percent for the 12 months ending March, a 
 larger increase than the 1.5-percent rise for the period ending February. The 
 index for all items less food and energy rose 2.0 percent over the last 12 
 months. The food index rose 2.1 percent over the past year, its largest 12-month 
 increase since the period ending March 2015, while the energy index declined 
 0.4 percent over the past year. 


 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.
                              Sep.  Oct.  Nov.  Dec.  Jan.  Feb.  Mar.   ended 
                              2018  2018  2018  2018  2019  2019  2019   Mar.  
                                                                         2019  
                                                                               
                                                                               
 All items..................    .1    .3    .0    .0    .0    .2    .4      1.9
  Food......................    .1    .0    .2    .3    .2    .4    .3      2.1
   Food at home.............   -.1   -.1    .1    .3    .1    .4    .4      1.4
   Food away from home (1)..    .2    .1    .3    .4    .3    .4    .2      3.0
  Energy....................  -1.0   2.1  -2.8  -2.6  -3.1    .4   3.5      -.4
   Energy commodities.......  -1.1   2.6  -5.0  -5.7  -5.3   1.5   6.2      -.6
    Gasoline (all types)....  -1.2   2.7  -5.2  -5.8  -5.5   1.5   6.5      -.7
    Fuel oil................   -.7   3.2  -2.9  -9.4  -1.3   2.6   2.1      -.4
   Energy services..........   -.9   1.3    .2   1.5   -.5   -.8    .3      -.1
    Electricity.............   -.7   1.8    .2    .4   -.6   -.3    .4       .3
    Utility (piped) gas                                                        
       service..............  -1.5   -.5    .2   5.1   -.3  -2.4   -.1     -1.4
  All items less food and                                                      
     energy.................    .2    .2    .2    .2    .2    .1    .1      2.0
   Commodities less food and                                                   
      energy commodities....   -.1    .3    .2    .0    .4   -.2   -.2       .0
    New vehicles............    .0   -.2    .0    .0    .2   -.2    .4       .7
    Used cars and trucks....  -2.1   2.5   2.5   -.5    .1   -.7   -.4       .4
    Apparel.................    .9    .2   -.6    .0   1.1    .3  -1.9     -2.2
    Medical care commodities   -.2   -.1    .5   -.4    .1  -1.0    .4      -.6
   Services less energy                                                        
      services..............    .3    .2    .2    .2    .2    .2    .3      2.7
    Shelter.................    .2    .2    .3    .3    .3    .3    .4      3.4
    Transportation services     .5    .1    .0   -.1   -.2   -.1    .0      1.0
    Medical care services...    .3    .2    .4    .4    .3    .0    .3      2.3

   1 Not seasonally adjusted.



 Food

 The food index rose 0.3 percent in March following a 0.4-percent increase in 
 February. The index for food at home rose 0.4 percent in March, the same increase 
 as the prior month. The index for fruits and vegetables rose 1.6 percent, with 
 the index for fresh vegetables increasing 2.0 percent and the index for fresh 
 fruits rising 1.2 percent. The dairy and related products index increased 0.6 
 percent, and the cereals and bakery products index rose 0.3 percent. The index 
 for other food at home also increased in March, rising 0.1 percent.

 The index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs was the only major grocery store 
 food group index to decline in March, falling 0.2 percent after rising 0.2 percent 
 in February. The index for nonalcoholic beverages was unchanged in March after 
 increasing in each of the prior 3 months.

 The index for food away from home rose 0.2 percent in March after increasing 0.4 
 percent in February. The index for limited service meals rose 0.2 percent and the 
 index for full service meals increased 0.1 percent.

 The food at home index rose 1.4 percent over the last 12 months. Five of the six 
 major grocery store food group indexes rose over the span, with the fruits and 
 vegetables index posting the largest increase at 3.9 percent. The index for meats, 
 poultry, fish, and eggs was the only one to decline, falling 0.2 percent over the 
 last 12 months. The index for food away from home increased 3.0 percent over the 
 past 12 months, with the index for limited service meals increasing 3.1 percent 
 and the index for full service meals rising 2.8 percent.    

 Energy

 The energy index rose 3.5 percent in March. The gasoline index rose 6.5 percent 
 in March after increasing 1.5 percent in February. (Before seasonal adjustment, 
 gasoline prices rose 9.0 percent in March.) The electricity index also increased 
 in March, rising 0.4 percent after falling in January and February. The index for 
 natural gas declined for the third month in a row, falling 0.1 percent in March. 

 Despite the increase in March, the energy index fell slightly over the last 12 
 months, declining 0.4 percent. The index for gasoline fell 0.7 percent, while the 
 index for natural gas declined 1.4 percent. The electricity index, in contrast, 
 increased 0.3 percent over the last 12 months. 
 
 All items less food and energy

 The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.1 percent in March, the 
 same monthly increase as in February. The shelter index continued to rise, increasing 
 0.4 percent. The index for rent rose 0.4 percent, while the index for owners’ 
 equivalent rent increased 0.3 percent.

 The medical care index, which declined in February, rose 0.3 percent in March. The 
 index for prescription drugs increased 0.6 percent in March following a 1.0-percent 
 decline in February. The index for hospital services also increased in March, rising 
 0.3 percent, but the index for physicians’ services declined, falling 0.4 percent.

 The index for new vehicles increased 0.4 percent in March after declining in February. 
 The recreation index rose 0.3 percent, and the education index advanced 0.5 percent. 
 The index for tobacco increased 1.6 percent, its largest increase since April 2017. 

 In contrast, the index for apparel declined 1.9 percent in March after rising in 
 February. The index for used cars and trucks fell for the second month in a row in 
 March, declining 0.4 percent. The index for airline fares fell in March, decreasing 
 0.6 percent after rising in February. Also declining in March were the indexes for 
 communication and for motor vehicle insurance. 
   
 The index for all items less food and energy rose 2.0 percent over the past 12 months, 
 a slightly smaller increase than the 2.1-percent rise for the period ending February. 
 The shelter index rose 3.4 percent over the span, and the medical care index increased 
 1.7 percent. The indexes for apparel, airline fares, and communication all declined 
 for the 12 months ending March. 

 Not seasonally adjusted CPI measures

 The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 1.9 percent over the  
 last 12 months to an index level of 254.202 (1982-84=100). For the month, the index 
 increased 0.6 percent prior to seasonal adjustment.  

 The Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) increased 
 1.8 percent over the last 12 months to an index level of 247.768 (1982-84=100). For the 
 month, the index increased 0.6 percent prior to seasonal adjustment.  

 The Chained Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (C-CPI-U) increased 1.7 percent 
 over the last 12 months. For the month, the index increased 0.6 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 April 2019 is scheduled to be released on Friday, May 10, 
 2019, at 8:30 a.m. (EDT). 


 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 
 5,000 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: April 10, 2019