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8:30 a.m. (EDT) September 12, 2019 USDL-19-1596
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CONSUMER PRICE INDEX – AUGUST 2019
The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.1 percent
in August on a seasonally adjusted basis after rising 0.3 percent in July, the
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, the
all items index increased 1.7 percent before seasonal adjustment.
Increases in the indexes for shelter and medical care were the major factors in
the seasonally adjusted all items monthly increase, outweighing a decline in the
energy index. The energy index fell 1.9 percent in August as the gasoline index
declined 3.5 percent. The food index was unchanged for the third month in a row.
The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.3 percent in August, the same
increase as in June and July. Along with the indexes for medical care and shelter,
the indexes for recreation, used cars and trucks, and airline fares were among the
indexes that increased in August. The indexes for new vehicles and household
furnishings and operations declined over the month.
The all items index increased 1.7 percent for the 12 months ending August; the
12-month increase has remained in the range of 1.5 to 2.0 percent since the period
ending December 2018. The index for all items less food and energy rose 2.4 percent
over the last 12 months, its largest 12-month increase since July 2018. The food
index rose 1.7 percent over the last year while the energy index declined
Table A. Percent changes in CPI for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U): U.S. city average
Seasonally adjusted changes from
Feb. Mar. Apr. May June July Aug. ended
2019 2019 2019 2019 2019 2019 2019 Aug.
All items.................. .2 .4 .3 .1 .1 .3 .1 1.7
Food...................... .4 .3 -.1 .3 .0 .0 .0 1.7
Food at home............. .4 .4 -.5 .3 -.2 -.1 -.2 .5
Food away from home (1).. .4 .2 .3 .2 .3 .2 .2 3.2
Energy.................... .4 3.5 2.9 -.6 -2.3 1.3 -1.9 -4.4
Energy commodities....... 1.5 6.2 5.4 -.4 -3.5 2.4 -3.3 -7.1
Gasoline (all types).... 1.5 6.5 5.7 -.5 -3.6 2.5 -3.5 -7.1
Fuel oil................ 2.6 2.1 1.3 -.3 -2.3 .6 -.9 -8.4
Energy services.......... -.8 .3 -.1 -.8 -.7 .0 -.2 -.8
Electricity............. -.3 .4 .0 -.8 -.8 .6 -.3 -.1
Utility (piped) gas
service.............. -2.4 -.1 -.8 -1.0 -.3 -1.8 .1 -3.5
All items less food and
energy................. .1 .1 .1 .1 .3 .3 .3 2.4
Commodities less food and
energy commodities.... -.2 -.2 -.3 -.1 .4 .2 .2 .8
New vehicles............ -.2 .4 .1 .1 .1 -.2 -.1 .2
Used cars and trucks.... -.7 -.4 -1.3 -1.4 1.6 .9 1.1 2.1
Apparel................. .3 -1.9 -.8 .0 1.1 .4 .2 1.0
Medical care commodities -1.0 .4 .9 -.4 -.2 .2 .3 .1
Services less energy
services.............. .2 .3 .3 .2 .3 .3 .3 2.9
Shelter................. .3 .4 .4 .2 .3 .3 .2 3.4
Transportation services -.1 .0 .1 .1 .0 .3 .4 .9
Medical care services... .0 .3 .2 .5 .4 .5 .9 4.3
1 Not seasonally adjusted.
The food index was unchanged in August. The index for food at home declined for
the third month in a row, falling 0.2 percent. The index for meats, poultry,
fish, and eggs decreased 0.7 percent in August as the index for eggs fell
2.6 percent. The index for fruits and vegetables, which rose in July, fell
0.5 percent in August; the index for fresh fruits declined 1.4 percent, but the
index for fresh vegetables rose 0.4 percent. The index for cereals and bakery
products fell 0.3 percent in August after rising 0.3 percent in July.
The index for other food at home rose 0.3 percent in August after declining
0.7 percent in July. The index for dairy and related products also increased in
August, rising 0.2 percent. The index for nonalcoholic beverages was unchanged
The index for food away from home rose 0.2 percent in August, the same increase
as in July. The indexes for full service meals and for limited service meals
both increased 0.2 percent over the month.
The food at home index rose 0.5 percent over the last 12 months. Five of the six
major grocery store food group indexes increased over the span, with nonalcoholic
beverages (1.7 percent) rising the most. The index for meats, poultry, fish, and
eggs was the only one to decline, falling 0.6 percent. The index for food away
from home rose 3.2 percent over the last 12 months, with the index for full
service meals increasing 3.4 percent and the index for limited service meals
rising 3.1 percent.
The energy index declined 1.9 percent in August, its third decline in the last
4 months. The gasoline index fell 3.5 percent in August following a 2.5-percent
increase in July. (Before seasonal adjustment, gasoline prices fell 4.3 percent
in August.) The electricity index also declined in August, falling 0.3 percent
after rising in July. The index for natural gas, however, increased slightly in
August, rising 0.1 percent after falling in each of the last 7 months.
The energy index decreased 4.4 percent over the past 12 months as all the major
energy component indexes declined. The gasoline index fell 7.1 percent, and the
fuel oil index declined 8.4 percent over the year. The index for natural gas
declined 3.5 percent over the past year, and the index for electricity fell
slightly, decreasing 0.1 percent.
All items less food and energy
The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.3 percent in August,
the same increase as in June and July. The medical care index was the largest
contributor to the August increase, rising 0.7 percent. The index for hospital
services rose sharply in August, increasing 1.4 percent, and the index for
nonprescription drugs increased 1.6 percent. However, the index for physicians’
services was unchanged, and the index for prescription drugs declined slightly,
falling 0.2 percent.
The shelter index rose 0.2 percent in August, following 0.3 percent increases
in June and July. The indexes for rent and for owners’ equivalent rent both
advanced 0.2 percent in August. The index for used cars and trucks rose
1.1 percent in August, its third consecutive increase. The recreation index rose
0.5 percent in August, its largest increase since December 2018. The index for
airline fares continued to rise in August, increasing 1.7 percent following a
2.3-percent advance in July. The index for personal care rose 0.3 percent in
August after increasing 0.4 percent in July. Also increasing in August were the
indexes for apparel, for motor vehicle insurance, and for tobacco.
Few indexes declined in August, but the new vehicles index continued to fall,
decreasing 0.1 percent following a 0.2-percent decline in July. The index for
household furnishings and operations also decreased in August, falling
0.1 percent after rising in each of the past 3 months.
The index for all items less food and energy rose 2.4 percent over the past
12 months, with most major component indexes rising over the span. The shelter
index increased 3.4 percent over the last year, and the medical care index rose
Not seasonally adjusted CPI measures
The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 1.7 percent
over the last 12 months to an index level of 256.558 (1982-84=100). For the
month, the index was unchanged prior to seasonal adjustment.
The Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W)
increased 1.5 percent over the last 12 months to an index level of 250.112
(1982-84=100). For the month, the index was unchanged prior to seasonal
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 was unchanged
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 2019 is scheduled to be released on
Thursday, October 10, 2019 at 8:30 a.m. (EDT).
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
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
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.
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,
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 additional information about the CPI visit www.bls.gov/cpi or contact the CPI Information and Analysis
Section at 202-691-7000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.
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.