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21-1088-PHI
Thursday, June 10, 2021

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Consumer Price Index, Washington-Arlington-Alexandria – May 2021

Area prices up 1.3 percent since March, 3.8 percent over the year

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) for Washington-Arlington-Alexandria increased 1.3 percent from March to May, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Alexandra Hall Bovee, the Bureau’s regional commissioner, noted that the recent increase was the largest since March 2012.  It was due largely to higher prices for new and used motor vehicles, reflected in an increase in the all items less food and energy index, up 1.2 percent. The energy index and the food index also increased since March, up 4.4 and 0.4 percent, respectively. (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 3.8 percent, the largest year-over-year increase since 2011. The rise was due mostly to a 3.2-percent rise in the all items less food and energy index. (See chart 1 and table A.) Since May 2020, the energy index and the food index also increased, up 24.1 and 1.4 percent, respectively. (See table 1.)

Food

Following a 0.2-percent decrease from January to March, the food index increased 0.4 percent over the last 2 months. Prices for food away from home increased 1.8 percent, and those for food at home decreased 1.0 percent. Within the food at home component, prices were lower for spices, seasonings, condiments, sauces, among others, while prices were higher for breakfast cereal and citrus fruits.

Food prices increased 1.4 percent over the year. Prices were higher for food away from home (5.5 percent), while they decreased for food at home (-2.6 percent) since May 2020. The decline in food at home prices followed 15 months when the 12-month increase ranged from 1.9 to 4.3 percent; the rate of increase slowed in April to 0.7 percent.

Energy

Since March, the energy index, which includes prices for household and transportation fuels, increased 4.4 percent, due mostly to higher prices for gasoline (6.5 percent). Prices were also higher for utility (piped) gas (7.9 percent), while those for electricity were lower (-0.6 percent) over the past 2 months.

Energy prices jumped 24.1 percent since May 2020, the largest 12-month increase since 2008. The rise was due almost entirely to sharply higher gasoline prices, up 51.7 percent, the highest such increase since 2010. Over the year, prices also increased for utility (piped) gas service, up 17.7 percent, while those for electricity decreased, down 2.7 percent.

All items less food and energy

The index for all items less food and energy rose 1.2 percent since March. The advance was led by strongly higher prices for new and used motor vehicles (9.9 percent), dominated by sharply higher prices for used cars and trucks (17.0 percent) which accounted for a third of the all items increase over the last 2 months. Prices were also higher for apparel (5.9 percent), while they were lower for shelter (-0.4 percent), led by owners’ equivalent rent of residences (-0.7 percent).

Since May 2020, the index for all items less food and energy rose 3.2 percent. Prices were higher for new and used motor vehicles (15.8 percent), due mostly to prices for used cars and trucks (29.6 percent). Prices also increased for shelter (0.9 percent) since May 2020.

Table A. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV, CPI-U 2-month and 12-month percent changes, all items index, not seasonally adjusted
Month20172018201920202021
2-month12-month2-month12-month2-month12-month2-month12-month2-month12-month

January

0.21.50.92.20.50.80.51.60.71.5

March

0.41.1-0.11.80.71.6-0.40.40.72.6

May

0.00.30.72.50.61.60.1-0.11.33.8

July

0.00.50.12.5-0.31.20.60.8

September

0.91.70.42.00.10.90.61.2

November

0.01.5-0.71.3-0.21.50.01.4

The Consumer Price Index for July 2021 is scheduled to be released on Wednesday, August 11, 2021, at 8:30 a.m. (EDT).

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Impact on May 2021 Consumer Price Index Data

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 May 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


Technical Note

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.

Table 1. Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U): Indexes and percent changes for selected periods, Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV, (1982-84=100 unless otherwise noted) (not seasonally adjusted)
Expenditure categoryIndexesPercent change from
Historical
data
Mar.
2021
Apr.
2021
May
2021
May
2020
Mar.
2021
Apr.
2021

All items

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASA0
272.347 275.8223.81.3 

Food and beverages

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASAF
264.450 265.7391.20.5 

Food

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASAF1
271.408 272.5581.40.4 

Food at home

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASAF11
254.400255.311251.776-2.6-1.0-1.4

Cereals and bakery products

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASAF111
326.575 321.989-3.0-1.4 

Meats, poultry, fish, and eggs

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASAF112
281.438 281.234-2.5-0.1 

Dairy and related products

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASEFJ
247.690 246.835-0.6-0.3 

Fruits and vegetables

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASAF113
263.387 263.719-3.90.1 

Nonalcoholic beverages and beverage materials(1)

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASAF114
223.093 218.427-5.4-2.1 

Other food at home

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASAF115
212.571 207.585-1.0-2.3 

Food away from home

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASEFV
293.428 298.7925.51.8 

Alcoholic beverages

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASAF116
198.978 201.312-1.61.2 

Housing

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASAH
286.593 286.4131.6-0.1 

Shelter

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASAH1
344.838345.045343.5120.9-0.4-0.4

Rent of primary residence

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASEHA
378.241377.523376.5000.1-0.5-0.3

Owners' equivalent rent of residences(2)

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASEHC
353.312353.587350.7631.0-0.7-0.8

Owners' equivalent rent of primary residence(2)

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASEHC01
353.312353.587350.7631.0-0.7-0.8

Fuels and utilities

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASAH2
239.775 244.4593.62.0 

Household energy

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASAH21
184.206188.753188.4263.42.3-0.2

Energy services

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASEHF
188.925193.171192.8243.32.1-0.2

Electricity

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASEHF01
202.504202.658201.235-2.7-0.6-0.7

Utility (piped) gas service

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASEHF02
151.312161.833163.25817.77.90.9

Household furnishings and operations

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASAH3
114.416 115.4675.80.9 

Apparel

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASAA
148.062 156.8397.65.9 

Transportation

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASAT
216.225 230.89815.76.8 

Private transportation

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASAT1
221.983 235.82517.46.2 

New and used motor vehicles(3)

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASETA
97.749 107.46415.89.9 

New vehicles(1)

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASETA01
193.573 203.4065.05.1 

Used cars and trucks(1)

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASETA02
329.104 384.96729.617.0 

Motor fuel

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASETB
264.353267.452281.27851.26.45.2

Gasoline (all types)

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASETB01
261.379264.591278.36051.76.55.2

Gasoline, unleaded regular(4)

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASS47014
255.369258.338271.97753.36.55.3

Gasoline, unleaded midgrade(4)(5)

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASS47015
267.615271.413284.63744.86.44.9

Gasoline, unleaded premium(4)

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASS47016
278.163282.852296.17241.46.54.7

Motor vehicle insurance(1)

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASETE
808.251 822.36014.81.7 

Medical care

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASAM
498.579 497.7400.7-0.2 

Recreation(3)

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASAR
117.865 118.1271.30.2 

Education and communication(3)

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASAE
156.718 157.1262.50.3 

Tuition, other school fees, and child care(1)

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASEEB
1,441.837 1,447.9532.80.4 

Other goods and services

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASAG
441.963 442.2964.90.1 

Commodity and service group

Commodities

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASAC
185.673 191.2326.93.0 

Commodities less food and beverages

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASACL11
146.153 153.65812.15.1 

Nondurables less food and beverages

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASANL11
193.569 200.08613.33.4 

Durables

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASAD
102.270 109.57810.87.1 

Services

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASAS
350.993 351.8532.00.2 

Special aggregate indexes

All items less shelter

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASA0L2
243.173 248.2155.22.1 

All items less medical care

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASA0L5
261.660 265.3364.11.4 

Commodities less food

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASACL1
148.570 155.79811.14.9 

Nondurables

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASAN
228.204 231.8395.61.6 

Nondurables less food

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASANL1
193.721 199.73211.33.1 

Services less rent of shelter(2)

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASASL2RS
369.630 373.0143.20.9 

Services less medical care services

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASASL5
335.854 336.9992.10.3 

Energy

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASA0E
223.130227.141232.98824.14.42.6

All items less energy

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASA0LE
279.685 282.7892.91.1 

All items less food and energy

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS35ASA0L1E
282.341 285.8613.21.2 

Footnotes
(1) Indexes on a November 1977=100 base.
(2) Indexes on a November 1982=100 base.
(3) Indexes on a December 1997=100 base.
(4) Special index based on a substantially smaller sample.
(5) Indexes on a December 1993=100 base.

 

Last Modified Date: Thursday, June 10, 2021