Frequently Asked Questions on the PPI for Final Demand

Background Information

    Effective with January 2014 Producer Price Index (PPI) data, BLS transitioned from the Stage of Processing (SOP) to the Final Demand-Intermediate Demand (FD-ID) aggregation system. The FD-ID system highlights the index for final demand.

    The final demand price index differs from that of the previous headline index, finished goods, in two major respects. It includes additional types of buyers: Government and Exporters. It includes services and construction prices.

The new headline PPI for final demand seems very complex. How can I better interpret the data?

  • The PPI for final demand measures the average change in prices received by domestic producers of goods, services, and construction sold for personal consumption, capital investment, government, and export.

    For those already familiar with GDP, it may be helpful to observe the following comparison:

    GDP tracks dollar value of spending by domestic entities on personal consumption (C), capital investment (I), government purchases (G), and exports (X) minus imports (M)

    GDP = C + I + G + ( X - M )

    The PPI for final demand tracks changes in average prices received by domestic producers for output sold to that same formula of components (except imports, since they are not domestically produced)

    PPI FD = C + I + G + X

How does the volatility in the PPI for final demand compare with the former headline PPI for finished goods?

  • Over the time period for which data are available, the percent change in the PPI for final demand does not move as far from its average as the PPI for finished goods on a 12-month or a 1-month basis.

Does the PPI survey observe enough service industries to develop such a broad index as final demand?

  • We cover approximately 72 percent of the service sector's output, as measured by revenue reported in the 2007 Economic Census. The final demand–intermediate demand (FD–ID) system more than doubles PPI coverage of the U.S. economy compared with the PPI for finished goods to over 75 percent.

If I want to see the old PPI series, the stage of processing (SOP) indexes, where can I get them?

  • All SOP indexes have remained in publication under the FD-ID system. A concordance table is available online.

What are the more volatile components of the PPI for final demand, and may I view the data without them?

Seeing as the PPIs for trade industries measure margins rather than sales prices, why are they in the PPI?

  • The retail and wholesale trade sector contributes about 10 percent of value added to GDP, according to Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) data for 2014. To provide the most comprehensive measure of output prices in the U.S. economy, it is vital to include this sector in the PPI.

    The output of the trade sector is defined by the services they provide rather than the physical merchandise they sell. Therefore, the value that these services add to merchandise is what we seek to measure. Using a similar concept as BEA, which compiles GDP using value-added data, we measure trade sector value-added as the difference between the price at which merchandise is acquired and the price at which it is resold in a given month. This is what we call the margin price.

    Further information on the definitions of the trade sector’s services are available in the short article Wholesale and retail Producer Price Indexes: margin prices.

Why do PPIs for the trade sector appear so volatile?

  • There are two main reasons behind the tendency toward volatility in trade sector PPIs:
    1. Two prices—selling prices and acquisition prices—are used to calculate margin prices. Both of these often change from month to month. Especially when these two prices move in opposite directions, the margin can change substantially in a single month.
    2. Even small changes in price may represent a large portion of the margin in percentage terms. To illustrate, suppose that the average price paid for a bottled beverage at a grocery retailer is $1.00. Even if the price the retailer pays the wholesaler stays the same, say, $0.90 per bottle, the change in margin if the retailer raises its selling price by just $0.05 is 50 percent.

Did BLS explain the proposed changes and seek input from customers before making the switch to the final demand index?

  • We introduced the new PPIs as experimental indexes in February 2011. Since then, the BLS website and publications have featured information about methods and asked the public to comment. BLS also published two Federal Register notices.

    We asked a variety of stakeholders for their views as early as 2010. Our outreach at meetings and conferences focused on other economic and statistical agencies, professional trade organizations, and journalists who report about PPI data.*

    Information about the new indexes, ranging from basic to in-depth, has been available on the BLS website since their introduction. Resources are currently available on the FD-ID Aggregation System Webpage.

    We are available to answer questions at or 202-691-7705.

    *In compliance with the Paperwork Reduction Act, BLS does not contact private businesses, citizens, or media outlets on an unsolicited basis, except when crucial to the advancement of its statistical surveys.

(Download Printable PDF)


Last Modified Date: April 13, 2016