Tuesday, April 13, 2021
The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) for Washington-Arlington-Alexandria increased 0.7 percent from January to March, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Alexandra Hall Bovee, the Bureau’s regional commissioner, noted that the recent increase was due largely to an increase in the energy index, up 10.3 percent. The all items less food and energy index also increased since January, up 0.3 percent, while the food index edged down 0.2 percent. (Data in this report are not seasonally adjusted. Accordingly, month-to-month changes may reflect the impact of seasonal influences.)
Over the last 12 months, the CPI-U increased 2.6 percent, due mostly to a 2.0-percent rise in the all items less food and energy index. (See chart 1 and table A.) Since March 2020, the food index and the energy index also increased, up 3.7 and 10.2 percent, respectively. (See table 1.)
Following a 1.0-percent rise from November to January, the food index decreased 0.2 percent over the last 2 months. Prices for food away from home declined 0.9 percent, and those for food at home increased 0.5 percent. Within the food at home component, prices were higher for carbonated drinks and citrus fruits, as well as uncooked beef steaks, while prices were lower for milk, among others.
Food prices increased 3.7 percent over the year. Prices were higher for both food away from home (4.6 percent) and for food at home (2.7 percent) since March 2020.
Since January, the energy index, which includes prices for household and transportation fuels, increased 10.3 percent, due largely to higher prices for gasoline (17.5 percent). Prices were also higher for utility (piped) gas (14.7 percent), while those for electricity were lower (-0.5 percent) over the past 2 months.
Energy prices advanced 10.2 percent since March 2020, due largely to a rise in gasoline prices, up 20.7 percent. Over the year, prices also increased for utility (piped) gas service, up 18.5 percent, while those for electricity decreased, down 5.2 percent.
The index for all items less food and energy edged up 0.3 percent since January. The advance was led by higher prices for recreation (2.6 percent) and shelter (0.2 percent), particularly owners’ equivalent rent of residences (0.4 percent) over the last 2 months. Prices were also higher for new and used motor vehicles (1.0 percent) and other goods and services (0.7 percent).
Since March 2020, the index for all items less food and energy rose 2.0 percent. Prices were higher for shelter (2.4 percent) and medical care (6.9 percent), among others. Prices decreased for apparel (-6.5 percent) since March 2020.
The Consumer Price Index for May 2021 is scheduled to be released on Thursday, June 10, 2021, at 8:30 a.m. (EDT).
Data collection by personal visit for the Consumer Price Index (CPI) program has been suspended since March 16, 2020. When possible, data normally collected by personal visit were collected either online or by phone. Additionally, data collection in March was affected by the temporary closing or limited operations of certain types of establishments. These factors resulted in an increase in the number of prices considered temporarily unavailable and imputed.
While the CPI program attempted to collect as much data as possible, many indexes are based on smaller amounts of collected prices than usual, and a small number of indexes that are normally published were not published this month. Additional information is available at www.bls.gov/covid19/effects-of-covid-19-pandemic-on-consumer-price-index.htm
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a measure of the average change in prices over time in a fixed market basket of goods and services. The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes CPIs for two population groups: (1) a CPI for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) which covers approximately 93 percent of the total U.S. population and (2) a CPI for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) which covers approximately 29 percent of the total U.S. population. The CPI-U includes, in addition to wage earners and clerical workers, groups such as professional, managerial, and technical workers, the self-employed, short-term workers, the unemployed, and retirees and others not in the labor force.
The CPI is based on prices of food, clothing, shelter, and fuels, transportation fares, charges for doctors' and dentists' services, drugs, and the other goods and services that people buy for day-to-day living. Each month, prices are collected 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.
The index measures price changes from a designated reference date; for most of the CPI-U the reference base is 1982-84 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. For further details see the CPI home page on the Internet at www.bls.gov/cpi and the CPI section of the BLS Handbook of Methods available on the internet at www.bls.gov/opub/hom/cpi/.
In calculating the index, price changes for the various items in each location are averaged together with weights that represent their importance in the spending of the appropriate population group. Local data are then combined to obtain a U.S. city average. Because the sample size of a local area is smaller, the local area index is subject to substantially more sampling and other measurement error than the national index. In addition, local indexes are not adjusted for seasonal influences. As a result, local area indexes show greater volatility than the national index, although their long-term trends are quite similar. NOTE: Area indexes do not measure differences in the level of prices between cities; they only measure the average change in prices for each area since the base period.
The Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MA-WV, Core Based Statistical Area includes the District of Columbia; the counties of Calvert, Charles, Frederick, Montgomery, and Prince George’s in Maryland; the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Fredericksburg, Manassas, and Manassas Park and the counties of Arlington, Clarke, Culpeper, Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun, Prince William, Rappahannock, Spotsylvania, Stafford, and Warren in Virginia; and the county of Jefferson in West Virginia.
Information in this release will be made available to individuals with sensory impairments upon request. Voice phone: (202) 691-5200; Federal Relay Service: (800) 877-8339.
|Expenditure category||Indexes||Percent change from|
Food and beverages
Food at home
Cereals and bakery products
Meats, poultry, fish, and eggs
Dairy and related products
Fruits and vegetables
Nonalcoholic beverages and beverage materials(1)
Other food at home
Food away from home
Rent of primary residence
Owners' equivalent rent of residences(2)
Owners' equivalent rent of primary residence(2)
Fuels and utilities
Utility (piped) gas service
Household furnishings and operations
New and used motor vehicles(3)
Used cars and trucks(1)
Gasoline (all types)
Gasoline, unleaded regular(4)
Gasoline, unleaded premium(4)
Motor vehicle insurance(1)
Education and communication(3)
Tuition, other school fees, and child care(1)
Other goods and services
Commodity and service group
Commodities less food and beverages
Nondurables less food and beverages
Special aggregate indexes
All items less shelter
All items less medical care
Commodities less food
Nondurables less food
Services less rent of shelter(2)
Services less medical care services
All items less energy
All items less food and energy
Last Modified Date: Tuesday, April 13, 2021