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News Release Information

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

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Consumer Price Index, Baltimore-Columbia-Towson – February 2023

Area prices were up 1.2 percent over the past two months, up 6.1 percent from a year ago

Prices in the Baltimore-Columbia-Towson area, as measured by the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U), increased 1.2 percent for the 2 months ending in February 2023, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Regional Commissioner Alexandra Hall Bovee noted the rise reflected increases in multiple indexes led by a higher shelter index, part of the all items less food and energy index which increased 1.0 percent in February. The food index increased 1.7 percent and the energy index increased 2.0 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 6.1 percent—continuing the trend of moderating price increases which started after the series peaked in June—mostly due to a 5.8 percent increase in the all items less food and energy index which was well below the 8.8 percent peak in August. The food index advanced 8.4 percent since December, the smallest increase in over a year. The energy index rose 6.4 percent —ending the trend of double-digit over-the-year increases which began in April 2021 and peaked at 40.7 percent in June 2022. (See chart 1 and table 1.)


Food prices rose 1.7 percent for the 2 months ending in February—up after the smallest price increase in the last 2 years in December. Food at home prices increased 1.8 percent as most of the grocery categories increased after falling in December.  Prices for nonalcoholic beverages and beverage materials (5.7 percent); other food at home (1.6 percent); fruits and vegetables (1.8 percent); and dairy and related products (3.1 percent) all rose. Food away from home prices advanced 1.4 percent, less than December’s 2.2 percent increase.

Over the year, the food index rose 8.4 percent, marking the second consecutive month of moderating prices since the 12.9-percent increase in October (which was the largest since that index started in 1999). This increase was driven by the food at home index up just 9.2 percent, part of price increases which began in mid-2021 and were in low double digits throughout 2022. The food at home increase was led by a 9.2 percent rise in the other food at home index, down from 13.8 percent in December. Nonalcoholic beverages and beverage materials advanced 22.3 percent—the largest increase since the series began in 2018—while meats, poultry, fish and egg prices increased 6.6 percent, well below its peak of 20.7 percent in April 2022. Higher prices for cereals and bakery products and dairy and related products were also below their recent peaks. Food away from home prices rose 6.9 percent – up from a 5.3-percent increase in December.  


The energy index has generally moderated after peaking at 13.5 percent in June 2022; it was up just 2.0 percent for the 2 months ending in February (see table 1). The rise was mainly due to higher gasoline prices, up 3.1 percent following 3 declines that ranged from 5.7 to 20.5 percent. The increase in the electricity index, up 2.1 percent, was well below October’s high of 8.8 percent. Contributing to the overall moderation were falling utility (piped) gas service prices, down 1.6 percent.

The energy index had its smallest 12-month gain since early 2020, increasing just 6.4 percent over the year and continuing the trend of moderating price increases that followed a peak of 40.7 percent in June 2022. The increase was largely due to higher prices for electricity (17.7 percent) and utility (piped) gas service (16.5 percent) although they also were below recent peaks. Gasoline prices fell 5.0 percent over the year after its own June 2022 peak of 64.6 percent.

All items less food and energy

The index for all items less food and energy rose 1.0 percent in the latest 2-month period due in large part to higher prices for shelter (1.7 percent), apparel (10.6 percent—largest increase in over 4 years) and recreation (2.5 percent). Within shelter, prices increased for all three components, led by owners' equivalent rent of residences (up 1.5 percent). The overall increase was offset by decreasing prices for medical care (down 0.7 percent) as medical care commodity prices and medical care service prices both declined. New and used motor vehicle prices fell 0.2 percent as decreasing used cars and trucks prices (down 3.3 percent) offset the 0.7 percent price increase for new vehicles.

Over the year, the index for all items less food and energy increased 5.8 percent. Shelter prices were up 7.2 percent – matching the January 2007 historic high for the series. This was due in part to the owners’ equivalent rent of residences index advancing 6.9 percent—also the largest increase since January 2007—and rent of primary residence, up 7.2 percent. Lodging away from home prices also were higher. Medical care prices rose 5.5 percent due to higher prices for medical care commodities and medical care services over the year. The household furnishings and operations index rose 8.0 percent over the year, continuing the trend of moderating price increases since its October 12-month peak (11.8 percent - the largest increase since this index started in 1999). Used cars and trucks prices decreased 13.6 percent—the largest price decrease since the series began in 2018—partially offsetting the 5.0 percent increase for new vehicles in the new and used motor vehicle index (1.8 percent) which have generally moderated since it peaked at 37.9 percent in February 2022.

The April 2023 Consumer Price Index for the Baltimore-Columbia-Towson area is scheduled to be released on May 10, 2023.

Technical Note

The Consumer Price Index for Baltimore-Columbia-Towson 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 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 5,000 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 and the CPI section of the BLS Handbook of Methods available on the internet at 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 Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD, Core Based Statistical Area includes Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford, Howard, and Queen Anne’s counties, as well as Baltimore City, in Maryland.

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.

Table 1. Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U): Indexes and percent changes for selected periods, Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD, (1982-84=100 unless otherwise noted) (not seasonally adjusted)
Expenditure category Indexes Percent change from

All items

300.182   303.749 6.1 1.2  

Food and beverages

321.426   326.263 8.3 1.5  


321.506   326.850 8.4 1.7  

Food at home

287.832 287.173 293.046 9.2 1.8 2.0

Cereals and bakery products

352.701   354.776 10.5 0.6  

Meats, poultry, fish, and eggs

303.217   304.571 6.6 0.4  

Dairy and related products

273.110   281.644 10.1 3.1  

Fruits and vegetables

317.825   323.576 3.8 1.8  

Nonalcoholic beverages and beverage materials(1)

213.716   225.819 22.3 5.7  

Other food at home

261.607   265.715 9.2 1.6  

Food away from home

365.763   370.889 6.9 1.4  

Alcoholic beverages

316.372   313.301 6.7 -1.0  


298.274   302.870 8.1 1.5  


346.122 348.408 351.934 7.2 1.7 1.0

Rent of primary residence

397.427 398.456 402.124 7.2 1.2 0.9

Owners' equivalent rent of residences(2)

365.673 367.747 371.200 6.9 1.5 0.9

Owners' equivalent rent of primary residence(2)

365.673 367.747 371.200 6.9 1.5 0.9

Fuels and utilities

295.848   299.279 15.6 1.2  

Household energy

263.714 269.463 267.248 17.4 1.3 -0.8

Energy services

279.992 286.353 284.690 17.8 1.7 -0.6


256.452 262.818 261.867 17.7 2.1 -0.4

Utility (piped) gas service

280.107 281.944 275.497 16.5 -1.6 -2.3

Household furnishings and operations

142.293   143.579 8.0 0.9  


125.046   138.274 6.6 10.6  


268.423   268.835 3.1 0.2  

Private transportation

274.451   274.386 2.3 0.0  

New and used motor vehicles(3)

137.374   137.138 1.8 -0.2  

New vehicles(1)

276.286   278.110 5.0 0.7  

Used cars and trucks(1)

331.259   320.412 -13.6 -3.3  

Motor fuel

282.557 298.459 290.383 -4.6 2.8 -2.7

Gasoline (all types)

274.352 290.641 282.903 -5.0 3.1 -2.7

Gasoline, unleaded regular(4)

277.061 294.430 286.263 -5.4 3.3 -2.8

Gasoline, unleaded midgrade(4)(5)

299.383 312.372 305.325 -2.7 2.0 -2.3

Gasoline, unleaded premium(4)

285.730 295.963 290.521 -1.9 1.7 -1.8

Medical care

512.316   508.522 5.5 -0.7  


138.183   141.662 4.9 2.5  

Education and communication(3)

160.254   161.189 1.4 0.6  

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

1,316.034   1,316.034 1.7 0.0  

Other goods and services

508.234   503.105 2.9 -1.0  

Commodity and service group


226.899   230.005 4.4 1.4  

Commodities less food and beverages

183.941   186.328 2.6 1.3  

Nondurables less food and beverages

222.128   229.939 4.2 3.5  


135.997   135.952 1.8 0.0  


371.206   375.162 7.0 1.1  

Special aggregate indexes

All items less shelter

283.739   286.404 5.6 0.9  

All items less medical care

289.662   293.586 6.2 1.4  

Commodities less food

188.067   190.378 2.7 1.2  


267.600   273.878 6.2 2.3  

Nondurables less food

227.255   234.463 4.3 3.2  

Services less rent of shelter(2)

414.351   415.443 6.8 0.3  

Services less medical care services

357.289   361.846 7.3 1.3  


281.808 292.368 287.416 6.4 2.0 -1.7

All items less energy

303.551   306.982 6.1 1.1  

All items less food and energy

300.865   304.005 5.8 1.0  

(1) Indexes on a March 1978=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: Tuesday, March 14, 2023