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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) February 13, 2020     USDL-20-0245

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

CONSUMER PRICE INDEX – JANUARY 2020

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) rose 0.1 percent in 
January on a seasonally adjusted basis, after rising 0.2 percent in December, 
the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, 
the all items index increased 2.5 percent before seasonal adjustment.

The index for shelter accounted for the largest part of the increase in the 
seasonally adjusted all items index, with the indexes for food and for medical 
care services also rising. These increases more than offset a decrease in the 
gasoline index, which fell 1.6 percent in January. The energy index declined 
0.7 percent, and the major energy component indexes were mixed. The index for 
food rose 0.2 percent in January 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 0.2 percent in January after 
increasing 0.1 percent in December. Along with the indexes for shelter and 
medical care, the indexes for apparel, recreation, education, and airline fares 
all increased in January. The indexes for used cars and trucks, prescription 
drugs, motor vehicle insurance, and household furnishings and operations were 
among those to decline.    

The all items index increased 2.5 percent for the 12 months ending January, 
the largest 12-month increase since the period ending October 2018. The index 
for all items less food and energy rose 2.3 percent over the last 12 months, 
the same 12-month increase as reported in the previous 3 months. The food index 
rose 1.8 percent over the last 12 months, while the energy index increased 6.2 
percent over that period. 

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.
                              July  Aug.  Sep.  Oct.  Nov.  Dec.  Jan.   ended 
                              2019  2019  2019  2019  2019  2019  2020   Jan.  
                                                                         2020  
								
All items..................	.3    .1    .1    .2	.2    .2    .1	    2.5
 Food......................	.0    .0    .2	  .2	.1    .2    .2	    1.8
  Food at home.............    -.2   -.1    .1	  .2	.1    .0    .1	     .7
  Food away from home(1)...	.2    .2    .3	  .2	.2    .3    .4	    3.1
 Energy....................	.9  -1.4   -.8	 1.7	.8   1.6   -.7	    6.2
  Energy commodities.......    1.4  -2.3  -1.5	 2.6   1.2   3.0  -1.6	   12.1
   Gasoline (all types)....    1.5  -2.4  -1.5	 2.7   1.2   3.1  -1.6	   12.8
   Fuel oil................	.3   -.9   -.6	 1.1   1.0   1.1   -.4	    6.5
  Energy services..........	.2   -.2    .1	  .7	.2   -.2    .6	    -.4
   Electricity.............	.5   -.2    .2	  .6	.2   -.2    .4	     .5
   Utility (piped) gas
      service..............    -.9    .0   -.2	 1.2	.5   -.5   1.0	   -3.2
 All items less food and
    energy.................	.3    .2    .2	  .1	.2    .1    .2	    2.3
  Commodities less food and
     energy commodities....	.2    .1    .0	 -.4   -.1    .0    .0	    -.3
   New vehicles............	.1   -.1   -.1	 -.1   -.1    .1    .0	     .1
   Used cars and trucks....	.4    .5    .6	-1.2   -.7   -.4  -1.2	   -2.0
   Apparel.................	.1    .1   -.3	-1.7	.6    .1    .7	   -1.3
   Medical care commodities	.2    .2   -.1	 1.0	.0   1.0   -.6	    1.7
  Services less energy
     services..............	.3    .3    .2	  .3	.3    .2    .3	    3.1
   Shelter.................	.3    .2    .3	  .1	.3    .2    .4	    3.3
   Transportation services	.1    .3    .2	  .1	.0   -.1    .3	     .7
   Medical care services...	.5    .7    .4	  .8	.4    .3    .3	    5.1
								
Footnotes:								
(1) Not seasonally adjusted.								


Food

The food index increased 0.2 percent in January, the same as in December. The 
index for food at home rose 0.1 percent, and four of the six major grocery 
component indexes increased in January. The index for other food at home rose 
0.2 percent in January while the index for nonalcoholic beverages increased 0.4 
percent. The indexes for dairy and related products and for fruits and vegetables 
also increased over the month. 

In contrast, the index for cereals and bakery products declined 0.4 percent in 
January after falling 0.3 percent in December. The index for meats, poultry, 
fish, and eggs was unchanged over the month.

The index for food away from home rose 0.4 percent in January after rising 0.3 
percent in December. The indexes for limited service meals and full service 
meals both increased 0.4 percent over the month. 

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 (cereals and bakery products) to 2.7 
percent (dairy and related products). The fruits and vegetables index declined 
over the span, falling 1.0 percent. The index for food away from home rose 3.1 
percent over the last year. The index for full service meals increased 3.4 
percent and the index for limited service meals rose 2.9 percent.

Energy

The energy index declined 0.7 percent in January, after rising 1.6 percent in 
December. The gasoline index fell 1.6 percent in January, following a 3.1 percent 
increase in December. (Before seasonal adjustment, gasoline prices fell 0.8 
percent in January.) The electricity index increased over the month, rising 0.4 
percent after falling in December. The index for natural gas increased 1.0 percent 
in January.

The energy index increased 6.2 percent over the past 12 months, with its major 
component indexes mixed. The gasoline index increased 12.8 percent, while the 
electricity index advanced 0.5 percent over the last 12 months. However, the 
index for natural gas fell 3.2 percent over the same period.  
 
All items less food and energy

The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.2 percent in January, 
after rising 0.1 percent in December. The shelter index rose 0.4 percent in 
January, with the rent index increasing 0.4 percent and the owners’ equivalent 
rent index rising 0.3 percent. The medical care index rose 0.2 percent in January, 
with the index for hospital services increasing 0.8 percent. However, the index 
for physicians’ services fell 0.4 percent, and the index for prescription drugs 
also declined 0.4 percent over the month.

The apparel index rose 0.7 percent in January following a 0.1-percent increase 
in December. The recreation index increased 0.3 percent over the month, as did 
the education index. The index for personal care advanced 0.7 percent in January 
after declining 0.2 percent the previous month. The airline fares index rose 0.7 
percent, after declining in each of the 3 previous months. The index for new 
vehicles was unchanged in January.

The index for used cars and trucks continued to decline, decreasing 1.2 percent in 
January after falling 0.4 percent in December. The index for motor vehicle insurance 
fell 0.2 percent in January. The index for household furnishings and operations also 
declined in January, decreasing 0.1 percent. 

The index for all items less food and energy rose 2.3 percent over the past 12 
months. The shelter index rose 3.3 percent over the 12-month span, and the medical 
care index rose 4.5 percent. Used cars and trucks (-2.0 percent) and apparel (-1.3 
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 2.5 percent over 
the last 12 months to an index level of 257.971 (1982-84=100). For the month, the 
index increased 0.4 percent prior to seasonal adjustment.  

The Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) 
increased 2.5 percent over the last 12 months to an index level of 251.361 
(1982-84=100). For the month, the index increased 0.4 percent prior to seasonal 
adjustment.  

The Chained Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (C-CPI-U) increased 2.3 
percent over the last 12 months. For the month, the index increased 0.4 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 February 2020 is scheduled to be released on Wednesday, 
March 11, 2020 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 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: February 13, 2020