Transmission of material in this release is embargoed until
8:30 a.m. (EDT) May 10, 2019 USDL-19-0776
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CONSUMER PRICE INDEX – APRIL 2019
The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.3
percent in April on a seasonally adjusted basis after rising 0.4 percent
in March, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the
last 12 months, the all items index increased 2.0 percent before seasonal
The gasoline index continued to increase, rising 5.7 percent and accounting
for over two-thirds of the seasonally adjusted all items monthly increase.
The index for energy rose 2.9 percent, although the index for natural gas
declined and the index for electricity was unchanged. The food index fell
in April, its first monthly decline since June 2017.
The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.1 percent for the
third consecutive month. The indexes for shelter, medical care, education,
and new vehicles all rose in April. The indexes for used cars and trucks,
apparel, and household furnishings and operations were among those that
declined over the month.
The all items index increased 2.0 percent for the 12 months ending April,
the largest 12-month increase since the period ending November 2018. The
index for all items less food and energy rose 2.1 percent over the last
12 months, and the food index rose 1.8 percent. The energy index increased
1.7 percent over the past year after posting 12-month declines the past 4
Table A. Percent changes in CPI for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U): U.S. city
Seasonally adjusted changes from
Oct. Nov. Dec. Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. ended
2018 2018 2018 2019 2019 2019 2019 Apr.
All items.................. .3 .0 .0 .0 .2 .4 .3 2.0
Food...................... .0 .2 .3 .2 .4 .3 -.1 1.8
Food at home............. -.1 .1 .3 .1 .4 .4 -.5 .7
Food away from home (1).. .1 .3 .4 .3 .4 .2 .3 3.1
Energy.................... 2.1 -2.8 -2.6 -3.1 .4 3.5 2.9 1.7
Energy commodities....... 2.6 -5.0 -5.7 -5.3 1.5 6.2 5.4 2.9
Gasoline (all types).... 2.7 -5.2 -5.8 -5.5 1.5 6.5 5.7 3.1
Fuel oil................ 3.2 -2.9 -9.4 -1.3 2.6 2.1 1.3 -.9
Energy services.......... 1.3 .2 1.5 -.5 -.8 .3 -.1 .0
Electricity............. 1.8 .2 .4 -.6 -.3 .4 .0 .6
Utility (piped) gas
service.............. -.5 .2 5.1 -.3 -2.4 -.1 -.8 -1.9
All items less food and
energy................. .2 .2 .2 .2 .1 .1 .1 2.1
Commodities less food and
energy commodities.... .3 .2 .0 .4 -.2 -.2 -.3 -.2
New vehicles............ -.2 .0 .0 .2 -.2 .4 .1 1.2
Used cars and trucks.... 2.5 2.5 -.5 .1 -.7 -.4 -1.3 .8
Apparel................. .2 -.6 .0 1.1 .3 -1.9 -.8 -3.0
Medical care commodities -.1 .5 -.4 .1 -1.0 .4 .9 .2
Services less energy
services.............. .2 .2 .2 .2 .2 .3 .3 2.8
Shelter................. .2 .3 .3 .3 .3 .4 .4 3.4
Transportation services .1 .0 -.1 -.2 -.1 .0 .1 1.1
Medical care services... .2 .4 .4 .3 .0 .3 .2 2.3
1 Not seasonally adjusted.
The food index declined 0.1 percent in April. The index for food at home, which
rose 0.4 percent in March, fell 0.5 percent in April. Five of the six major
grocery store food group indexes decreased in April. The index for fruits and
vegetables declined 0.9 percent in April after rising in February and March.
The index for nonalcoholic beverages also declined 0.9 percent in April, and
the index for other food at home declined 0.6 percent.
The index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs fell 0.2 percent in April, the
same decrease as in March, and the index for cereals and bakery products declined
0.1 percent. The only major grocery store food group index to rise in April was
dairy and related products, which increased 0.1 percent after rising 0.6 percent
The index for food away from home rose 0.3 percent in April. The index for full
service meals rose 0.4 percent, and the index for limited service meals increased
The food index rose 1.8 percent over the past year, with the food at home index
increasing 0.7 percent. The indexes for fruits and vegetables and nonalcoholic
beverages increased the most among the major grocery store food groups, each
rising 2.2 percent. The index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs was the only one
to decline over the year, falling 1.1 percent. The index for food away from home
rose 3.1 percent over the past year, its largest 12-month increase since February
The energy index rose 2.9 percent in April. The gasoline index rose 5.7 percent
in April following a 6.5-percent increase in March. (Before seasonal adjustment,
gasoline prices rose 10.3 percent in April.) The electricity index, which increased
in March, was unchanged in April. The index for natural gas continued to fall; its
0.8-percent decrease in April was its fourth consecutive monthly decline.
The energy index increased 1.7 percent over the past 12 months, with its major
component indexes mixed. The gasoline index increased 3.1 percent over the past
year and the electricity index rose 0.6 percent. The index for natural gas declined
1.9 percent and the index for fuel oil fell 0.9 percent.
All items less food and energy
The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.1 percent in April. The
shelter index rose 0.4 percent, the same increase as in March. The index for rent
increased 0.4 percent and the index for owners’ equivalent rent rose 0.3 percent.
The index for lodging away from home rose 1.6 percent in April, its fifth consecutive
The medical care index rose 0.3 percent in April, the same increase as in March.
The index for hospital services fell 0.5 percent, but the index for prescription
drugs rose 0.7 percent and the index for physicians’ services advanced 0.2 percent.
The education index increased 0.2 percent in April, and the new vehicles index rose
0.1 percent. The indexes for recreation, for communication, and for personal care
were all unchanged in April.
The index for used cars and trucks fell 1.3 percent in April, its third consecutive
monthly decrease. The apparel index decreased 0.8 percent in April following a
1.9-percent decline in March. The index for household furnishings and operations
fell 0.3 percent in April, its first monthly decline since June 2018. The indexes
for alcoholic beverages, for tobacco, and for airline fares also declined in April.
The index for all items less food and energy rose 2.1 percent over the past 12 months.
The 12-month change has remained in the range of 1.6 percent to 2.4 percent since
June 2011. The shelter index rose 3.4 percent over the year, with the rent index
rising 3.8 percent. The medical care index increased 1.9 percent over the past 12
Not seasonally adjusted CPI measures
The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 2.0 percent over
the last 12 months to an index level of 255.548 (1982-84=100). For the month, the
index increased 0.5 percent prior to seasonal adjustment.
The Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) increased
1.9 percent over the last 12 months to an index level of 249.332 (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 1.8 percent
over the last 12 months. For the month, the index increased 0.5 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 May 2019 is scheduled to be released on Wednesday, June
12, 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
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
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
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.
For additional information about the CPI visit www.bls.gov/cpi or contact the CPI Information
and Analysis Section at 202-691-7000 or email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Information from this release will be made available to sensory
impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: 202-691-5200; Federal Relay Service: