Wednesday, April 12, 2023
Prices in the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria area, as measured by the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U), increased 1.3 percent for the 2 months ending in March 2023, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Regional Commissioner Alexandra Hall Bovee noted that the March rise was due largely to a rapid increase in the shelter index. The all items less food and energy index, which includes shelter, contributed the most to the increase as it rose 1.9 percent. Lower prices in the energy index and the food index offset the increase and kept the overall index within the range for the last year. (Data in this report are not seasonally adjusted. Accordingly, bi-monthly changes may reflect seasonal influences.)
Over the last 12 months, the CPI-U index was up 3.7 percent. The all items less food and energy index was mainly responsible as it rose 4.0 percent, although food prices were up 5.8 percent over the year. (See chart 1 and table A.) The energy index tempered the overall increase, declining 6.0 percent since March 2022. (See table 1.)Food
The food index fell 0.4 percent over the last 2 months, with prices for food at home down 1.0 percent. Within the food at home category, prices for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs decreased 3.7 percent, the largest decline since the index began in 2018, and largely due to falling prices for eggs. Dairy and related products were down 3.0 percent, the largest decrease since November 2020 (-4.0 percent). After increasing 3.5 percent in January, cereals and bakery products prices were down 0.5 percent in March. Prices for fruits and vegetables and nonalcoholic beverages and beverage materials both had increases of 0.6 percent, and other food at home reported no change. Prices for food away from home increased 0.5 percent, moderating after larger increases in November (2.1 percent) and January (1.7 percent).
Over-the-year, food prices increased 5.8 percent, the smallest since November 2021 (+5.6 percent); since then, increases ranged from 6.2 percent to 8.9 percent. The 7.3-percent increase for food away from home was the highest reported 12-month increase since the index began in January 1999. Comparatively, the food at home index reported the smallest 12-month increase (+4.9 percent) since September 2021. All grocery categories had price increases from a year ago but generally moderated from previous rates of increase. The other food at home index had a 6.1-percent rise; prices for fruits and vegetables were up 5.1 percent; and cereals and bakery products increased 6.7 percent. Prices for dairy and related products were up 6.6 percent, much less than July’s series high of 18.8 percent. Nonalcoholic beverages and beverage materials had a 5.7-percent rise and prices for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs increased 1.2 percent, well below May’s peak (+13.5 percent).Energy
In March, the energy index had its fourth consecutive bi-monthly decline, decreasing 3.7 percent over the 2-month period. Contributing the most to the decline was the utility (piped) gas index, down 24.1 percent following a 2-month increase of 9.5 percent in January; March marked the largest decline since September 2018’s 45.6-percent decrease. Declining prices for gasoline (-1.0 percent), part of a general decline since July, and fuel oil contributed to the continued decrease. The electricity index was the only component of energy to increase, with a 0.9-percent rise after -1.9 percent in November and no change in January.
Energy prices declined 6.0 percent over the year as gasoline and utility (piped) gas had double-digit decreases of 18.2 percent and 11.2 percent, respectively — the first over-the-year decline for all three indexes since January 2021. Prices advanced for electricity (+15.1 percent, moderating some the recent 19.1-percent peak in November) and fuel oil.All items less food and energy
The index for all items less food and energy rose 1.9 percent in the 2 months ending in March 2023, the largest increase in the broad category since September 1991. The recent rise was mainly because of higher prices for shelter, up 1.7 percent, the largest 2-month increase since July 2007. Rising prices for lodging away from home, followed by owners’ equivalent rent (up 0.9 percent) contributed to the index increase while a 0.6 percent increase in rent of primary residence was well below its recent peak of 2.0 in November. Prices for new and used motor vehicles were up 2.7 percent, the first bi-monthly increase after 3 consecutive periods of decline. Prices for new vehicles advanced 0.6 percent whereas used cars and trucks prices continued to decline (down 0.7 percent); the used cars and trucks index only increased once in the past year. The household furnishings and operations index (+3.1 percent) and public transportation were both up over the month. Other components of the all items less food and energy index that supported the increase included apparel (up 5.9 percent), medical care (up 1.4 percent after two periods of decline), and recreation (up 1.0 percent).
Over the year, the index for all items less food and energy increased 4.0 percent; in general, the 12-month rate of increase has slowed over the last year. This increase was primarily due to a 5.3-percent rise in the shelter index as a component index, owners’ equivalent rent of residences, was up 4.9 percent; each of these were the largest over-the-year increases since 2007. Also in shelter, the index for rent of primary residence advanced 6.5 percent; this index has accelerated over the last year – it was up just 0.9 percent last March. All other main components of the all items less food and energy index were up over the year, except medical care (down 2.7 percent, the first 12-month drop since July 2018). Prices for recreation rose 4.4 percent, and the new and used motor vehicle index had a 3.5-percent increase, the lowest since January 2021 and well below the recent peak of 25.9 percent. Within the new and used motor vehicle index, prices for new vehicles were up 4.9 percent, and used cars and trucks were down 11.2 percent, similar to the previous largest decline since the series began in 2018 reported in January (-11.3 percent).
The May 2023 Consumer Price Index for the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria area is scheduled to be released on June 13, 2023.
The Consumer Price Index for Washington-Arlington-Alexandria is published bi-monthly. 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 89 percent of the total population and (2) a CPI for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) which covers 28 percent of the total 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 87 urban areas across the country from about 4,000 housing units and approximately 26,000 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 (1982-84) that equals 100.0. An increase of 16.5 percent, for example, is shown as 116.5. This change can also be expressed in dollars as follows: the price of a base period "market basket" of goods and services in the CPI has risen from $10 in 1982-84 to $11.65. For further details see the CPI home page on the Internet at www.bls.gov/cpi and the BLS Handbook of Methods, Chapter 17, The Consumer Price Index, available on the Internet at www.bls.gov/opub/hom/homch17_a.htm.
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-MD-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; Telecommunications Relay Service: 7-1-1.
|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)
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: Wednesday, April 12, 2023