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The Challenge Of Redesigning The Consumer Price Index Area Sample

Janet L. Williams, Eugene F. Brown, and Gary R. Zion


The sample design for the U. S. Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a multistage one which is revised every ten years. The first stage consists of selecting primary sampling units (PSUs) which are either Metropolitan Standard Areas (MSAs) defined by the Office of Management and Budget or are defined by BLS in the nonmetropolitan areas. The selected PSUs are also used in the Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE) and the Consumer Point of Purchase Survey (CPOPS). This paper describes the recently completed PSU selection process for the 1998 CPI Revision. Also detailed is the PC software developed and used to implement this process which includes nonmetropolitan PSU definition, selection of stratifying variables, Keyfitzing and controlled selection. The paper discusses how conflicting and uncertain demands were handled in the design. One demand was the necessity of selecting the sample PSUs before a decision was reached on the possible expansion of the CPI household frame.