Transmission of material in this release is embargoed until
8:30 a.m. (EDT) April 14, 2017 USDL-17-0419
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CONSUMER PRICE INDEX – MARCH 2017
The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) decreased 0.3 percent
in March on a seasonally adjusted basis, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
reported today. Over the last 12 months, the all items index rose 2.4 percent
before seasonal adjustment.
The March decline was the first 1-month decrease in the seasonally adjusted
all items index since February 2016. A decline in the gasoline index was the
largest factor, with a decrease in the index for wireless telephone services
also contributing. The energy index declined 3.2 percent, with the gasoline
index falling 6.2 percent, and other major energy component indexes decreasing
as well. The food index rose 0.3 percent, with the index for food at home
increasing 0.5 percent, its largest increase since May 2014.
The index for all items less food and energy fell 0.1 percent in March, its
first decline since January 2010. The shelter index rose 0.1 percent, and the
indexes for motor vehicle insurance, medical care, tobacco, airline fares, and
alcoholic beverages also increased in March. These increases were more than
offset by declines in several indexes, including those for wireless telephone
services, used cars and trucks, new vehicles, and apparel.
The all items index rose 2.4 percent for the 12 months ending March, a smaller
increase than the 2.7-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 smallest 12-month increase since November 2015. The energy index rose 10.9
percent over the last year, while the food index increased 0.5 percent.
Table A. Percent changes in CPI for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U): U.S. city
Seasonally adjusted changes from
Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec. Jan. Feb. Mar. ended
2016 2016 2016 2016 2017 2017 2017 Mar.
All items.................. .3 .3 .2 .3 .6 .1 -.3 2.4
Food...................... .0 .0 .0 .0 .1 .2 .3 .5
Food at home............. -.2 -.2 -.1 -.2 .0 .3 .5 -.9
Food away from home (1).. .2 .1 .1 .2 .4 .2 .2 2.4
Energy.................... 2.4 2.5 1.0 1.2 4.0 -1.0 -3.2 10.9
Energy commodities....... 4.4 4.8 2.0 2.4 7.6 -2.8 -6.0 19.8
Gasoline (all types).... 4.6 5.1 2.1 2.4 7.8 -3.0 -6.2 19.9
Fuel oil (1)............ 2.4 5.9 -1.2 6.0 3.5 -.4 -.8 24.9
Energy services.......... .6 .4 .0 .0 .3 1.0 -.3 3.4
Electricity............. .5 .3 .0 .0 .0 .8 -.1 1.6
Utility (piped) gas
service.............. .8 .9 .2 .1 1.5 1.5 -.8 10.3
All items less food and
energy................. .1 .1 .2 .2 .3 .2 -.1 2.0
Commodities less food and
energy commodities.... -.1 .0 -.2 .0 .4 .0 -.3 -.6
New vehicles............ .0 .2 .0 .1 .9 -.2 -.3 .2
Used cars and trucks.... -.2 -.1 .2 .2 -.4 -.6 -.9 -4.7
Apparel................. -.5 .2 -.3 -.4 1.4 .6 -.7 .6
Medical care commodities .6 .2 -.4 .5 .3 -.2 .2 3.9
Services less energy
services.............. .2 .2 .3 .3 .3 .3 -.1 2.9
Shelter................. .3 .3 .3 .3 .2 .3 .1 3.5
Transportation services .0 -.1 .5 .5 .6 .7 .4 3.8
Medical care services... .1 .1 .2 .2 .2 .2 .1 3.4
1 Not seasonally adjusted.
The food index rose 0.3 percent in March following a 0.2-percent increase in
February. The index for food at home advanced 0.5 percent, as 4 of the 6 major
grocery store food group indexes rose. The index for fruits and vegetables rose
1.6 percent, with the index for fresh fruits rising 2.4 percent. The index for
other food at home rose 0.7 percent after declining in February. The indexes for
cereals and bakery products and for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs both increased
0.3 percent. In contrast to these increases, the index for dairy and related
products fell 0.6 percent in March after rising in each of the 3 prior months.
The index for nonalcoholic beverages also declined, falling 0.1 percent after
rising in February.
The food at home index declined 0.9 percent over the past year. The indexes for
meats, poultry, fish, and eggs, for fruits and vegetables, and for cereals and
bakery products declined over the past 12 months, while the other 3 major grocery
store food group indexes increased slightly over the span. The index for food away
from home rose 0.2 percent in March, the same increase as in February, and rose
2.4 percent over the last 12 months.
The energy index fell 3.2 percent in March following a 1.0-percent decline in
February. All the energy component indexes declined in March, with the gasoline
index falling 6.2 percent. (Before seasonal adjustment, gasoline prices increased
1.1 percent in March.) The index for natural gas fell 0.8 percent after rising
in each of the last 8 months, and the electricity index declined 0.1 percent
after rising in February.
Despite the March declines, all the component indexes rose over the last year.
The gasoline index increased 19.9 percent, the index for natural gas advanced
10.3 percent, and the electricity index increased 1.6 percent.
All items less food and energy
The index for all items less food and energy declined 0.1 percent in March. The
index for communication fell 3.5 percent as the index for wireless telephone
services decreased 7.0 percent, the largest 1-month decline in the history of the
index. The index for used cars and trucks continued to fall, declining 0.9 percent
in March, and the new vehicles index decreased 0.3 percent. The apparel index
declined 0.7 percent in March after rising 0.6 percent in February.
The shelter index rose 0.1 percent in March, its smallest increase since June 2014.
The rent index rose 0.3 percent and the index for owners' equivalent rent advanced
0.2 percent, but the index for lodging away from home fell 2.4 percent. The medical
care index increased 0.1 percent in March, as the index for hospital services rose
0.4 percent, the index for prescription drugs was unchanged, and the physicians'
services index declined 0.3 percent.
The index for motor vehicle insurance continued to rise, increasing 1.2 percent in
March. The index for tobacco rose 0.5 percent, the airline fares index increased
0.4 percent, and the index for alcoholic beverages rose 0.2 percent. The indexes
for recreation, for education, and for household furnishings and operations were
unchanged in March.
The index for all items less food and energy rose 2.0 percent over the past 12
months. The indexes for shelter and for medical care both rose 3.5 percent. The
index for motor vehicle insurance increased sharply over the last year, rising 8.1
percent, its largest 12-month increase since the period ending June 2003. The
indexes for communication, used cars and trucks, and household furnishings and
operations all declined over the past year.
Not seasonally adjusted CPI measures
The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 2.4 percent over
the last 12 months to an index level of 243.801 (1982-84=100). For the month, the
index rose 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 237.656
(1982-84=100). For the month, the index increased 0.1 percent prior to seasonal
The Chained Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (C-CPI-U) increased
2.4 percent over the last 12 months. For the month, the index rose 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.
The Consumer Price Index for April 2017 is scheduled to be released on Friday,
May 12, 2017, at 8:30 a.m. (EDT)
Consumer Price Index Geographic Revision for 2018
In January 2018, BLS will introduce a new geographic area sample for the Consumer
Price Index (CPI). The 2018 revision utilizes the 2010 Decennial Census and incorporates an
updated area sample design, changes the frequency of publication for several local area
indexes, and establishes some new local area and aggregate indexes. The first indexes
using the new structure will be published in February 2018. Additional information on
the geographic revision is available at: www.bls.gov/cpi/georevision2018.htm.
A Note on the 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 five years of seasonally adjusted data. For more information on
data revisions and exceptions to the usual revision schedule, please see the Fact Sheet on
Seasonal Adjustment (https://www.bls.gov/cpi/cpisaqanda.htm) and the Timeline of Seasonal
Adjustment Methodological Changes (https://www.bls.gov/cpi/cpiseastimeline.htm).
How to Use Seasonally Adjusted and Unadjusted Data
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 changing
climatic conditions, 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.
2017 Series Adjusted Using Intervention Analysis Seasonal Adjustment
For the seasonal factors introduced in January 2017, BLS adjusted 40 series using Intervention
Analysis Seasonal Adjustment, including selected food and beverage items, motor fuels and
natural gas. For example, this procedure was used for the Motor fuel series to offset the
effects of events such as the 2009 return to normal pricing after the worldwide economic
downturn in 2008.
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 five 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 five
years of data. Seasonally adjusted indexes beyond the last five years of data are considered to
be final and not subject to revision. In January 2017, revised seasonal factors and seasonally
adjusted indexes for 2012-2016 were calculated and published. For directly adjusted series, the
seasonal factors for 2016 will be applied to data in 2017 to produce the seasonally adjusted 2017
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 five years, but the seasonally adjusted indexes before that period will not be
changed. 27 of the 81 components of the U.S. city average all items index are not seasonally adjusted
For additional information on seasonal adjustment in the CPI, please contact us at (202)691-6968 or
firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have general questions about the CPI, please call our information staff at
(202) 691-7000 or email@example.com.
Facilities for Sensory Impaired
Information from this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request.
Voice phone: 202-691-5200, Federal Relay Services: 1-800-877-8339.
Brief Explanation of the CPI
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a measure of the average change in prices over time of goods and
services purchased by households. The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes CPIs for two population
groups: (1) the CPI for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W), which covers households of
wage earners and clerical workers that comprise approximately 28 percent of the total population and
(2) the CPI for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) and the Chained CPI for All Urban Consumers (C-CPI-U),
which covers approximately 89 percent of the total population and includes, in addition to wage earners
and clerical worker households, groups such as professional, managerial, and technical workers, the
self-employed, short-term workers, the unemployed, and retirees and others not in the labor force.
The CPIs are based on prices of food, clothing, shelter, fuels, transportation fares, charges for
doctors’ and dentists’ services, drugs, and other goods and services that people buy for day-to-day
living. Prices are collected each month in 87 urban areas across the country from about 6,000 housing
units and approximately 24,000 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 87 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 of the Bureau’s
In calculating the index, price changes for the various items in each location are averaged together
with 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 27 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. It is important to
note that the CPI-U and CPI-W are considered final when released, but the C-CPI-U is issued in
preliminary form and subject to two annual revisions.
The index measures price change from a designed reference date. For 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 16.5 percent from the reference base, for example, is shown as 116.500. This change
can also be expressed in dollars as follows: the price of a base period market basket of goods and
services in the CPI has risen from $10 in 1982-84 to $11.65.
For further details visit the CPI home page on the Internet at www.bls.gov/cpi/ or contact our CPI
Information and Analysis Section on (202) 691-7000.
Note on Sampling Error in the Consumer Price Index
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 Consumer Price Index. 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% of these estimates would 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
for All Urban Consumers, 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 "Variance Estimates for Price Changes in the
Consumer Price Index, January-December 2016." These data are available on the CPI home page
(www.bls.gov/cpi), or by using the following link: www.bls.gov/cpi/cpivar2016.pdf.
Calculating Index Changes
Movements of the indexes from one 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 example below
illustrates the computation of index point and percent changes.
Percent changes for 3-month and 6-month periods are expressed as annual rates and are computed
according to the standard formula for compound growth rates. These data indicate what the percent
change would be if the current rate were maintained for a 12-month period.
Index Point Change
Less previous index 201.800
Equals index point change .616
Index point difference .616
Divided by the previous index 201.800
Results multiplied by one hundred 0.003x100
Equals percent change 0.3