July 19, 1999
A striking feature of the new CPI research series is that there are no increases in apparel prices in the last seven years. In fact, the price index for apparel dropped in the research series every year from 1992 to 1998 except 1997, when it was unchanged.
Prices for apparel also fell in the official CPI series in some years in the 1990s, but not as frequently. In the official series, apparel prices dropped in three years in the 1990s, half as often as in the research series.
In each year in the entire study period, 1978-98, the annual change in apparel prices was lower in the research series than in the official Consumer Price Index. While the growth rate was always lower than in the official series, apparel prices declined in the research series in only one year prior to 1992—in 1989 prices descended by 0.1 percent.
The BLS Consumer Price Index program produces CPI data. BLS has made numerous improvements to the CPI over the years, which have increased the accuracy of the index; however, the official historical price indexes are not adjusted to reflect the improvements. Find more information on the CPI research series in "CPI research series using current methods, 1978-98," by Kenneth J. Stewart and Stephen B. Reed, Monthly Labor Review, June 1999. It is important to note that the CPI research series has certain limitations and that it is subject to revision. Annual percent changes are December-to-December changes.