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Tuesday, September 14, 2021


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Consumer Price Index, Baltimore-Columbia-Towson – August 2021

Area prices increased 0.5 percent since June; up 4.5 percent over the year

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) for Baltimore-Columbia-Towson increased 0.5 percent from June to August, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Regional Commissioner Alexandra Hall Bovee noted that the recent bi-monthly increase was led by a rise in the all items less food and energy index, up 0.3 percent, due almost entirely to a 4.2-percent increase in medical care. Transportation prices, which had large increases in April and June, had only a modest increase in August. The food index and the energy index rose since June, both up 1.6 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 4.5 percent. The over-the-year rise was due to increases in the all items less food and energy index (3.5 percent) and the energy index (20.5 percent). (See chart 1.) The food index also increased, up 3.9 percent over the year. (See table 1.)


The food index rose from June to August, up 1.6 percent. Prices increased for food at home, up 2.4 percent since June, and for food away from home, up 0.8 percent. Within the food at home component, prices were higher for frozen and freeze dried prepared foods as well as fresh fish and seafood.

Over the year, the food index increased 3.9 percent. Prices rose for food away from home (3.6 percent), and for food at home (4.1 percent). The 4.1-percent increase in food at home was the largest 12-month increase since November 2020.


The energy index, which includes prices for household and transportation fuels, increased 1.6 percent since June, due to higher prices for gasoline (2.4 percent). Prices for utility (piped) gas service also rose over the past two months, up 5.3 percent, while those for electricity inched down 0.1 percent.

Over the year, the energy index increased 20.5 percent, led by higher prices for gasoline (34.9 percent). Prices were also higher for electricity (5.0 percent) and utility (piped) gas service (12.5 percent) since August 2020.

All items less food and energy

The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.3 percent from June to August. Prices were higher for medical care (4.2 percent), the highest 2-month rise since April 2020. Education and communication (2.3 percent) and shelter (0.3 percent) also rose. Prices were lower for public transportation and new vehicles (-0.9 percent).

The index for all items less food and energy increased 3.5 percent since August 2020. The rise was led by higher prices for new and used motor vehicles (14.7 percent), particularly those for used cars and trucks (32.3 percent). Prices were also higher for shelter (2.3 percent), while they were lower for medical care (-1.6 percent) over the year.

The Consumer Price Index for October 2021 is scheduled to be released Wednesday, November 10, 2021 at 8:30 am (ET).

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Impact on August 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 August 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

Technical Note

The Consumer Price Index for Baltimore-Columbia-Towson is published bi-monthly. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a measures 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; Federal Relay Service: (800) 877-8339.

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

269.598   271.067 4.5 0.5  

Food and beverages

277.793   282.159 4.1 1.6  


277.003   281.500 3.9 1.6  

Food at home

246.497 248.222 252.477 4.1 2.4 1.7

Cereals and bakery products

299.056   300.653 1.8 0.5  

Meats, poultry, fish, and eggs

255.841   268.324 14.4 4.9  

Dairy and related products

240.477   248.928 4.3 3.5  

Fruits and vegetables

290.198   294.589 1.1 1.5  

Nonalcoholic beverages and beverage materials(1)

173.093   170.323 -5.9 -1.6  

Other food at home

221.822   228.103 2.3 2.8  

Food away from home

321.856   324.413 3.6 0.8  

Alcoholic beverages

286.392   288.735 7.1 0.8  


270.380   271.311 2.8 0.3  


320.577 321.555 321.563 2.3 0.3 0.0

Rent of primary residence

363.471 366.093 367.576 -0.7 1.1 0.4

Owners' equivalent rent of residences(2)

338.531 339.639 339.912 2.6 0.4 0.1

Owners' equivalent rent of primary residence(2)

338.531 339.639 339.912 2.6 0.4 0.1

Fuels and utilities

231.840   234.130 6.5 1.0  

Household energy

201.357 202.886 202.850 7.1 0.7 0.0

Energy services

215.253 216.679 216.991 6.3 0.8 0.1


198.863 199.467 198.696 5.0 -0.1 -0.4

Utility (piped) gas service

206.366 211.474 217.322 12.5 5.3 2.8

Household furnishings and operations

124.344   124.497 4.2 0.1  


126.085   124.180 5.2 -1.5  


231.285   226.090 14.6 -2.2  

Private transportation

228.843   228.869 14.6 0.0  

New and used motor vehicles(3)

    113.141 14.7    

New vehicles(1)

    206.404 6.5    

Used cars and trucks(1)

344.433   343.131 32.3 -0.4  

Motor fuel

259.171 262.799 265.223 34.8 2.3 0.9

Gasoline (all types)

253.746 257.386 259.750 34.9 2.4 0.9

Gasoline, unleaded regular(4)

256.405 260.280 262.703 35.7 2.5 0.9

Gasoline, unleaded midgrade(4)(5)

275.527 277.768 280.445 28.3 1.8 1.0

Gasoline, unleaded premium(4)

262.094 264.564 266.725 29.2 1.8 0.8

Motor vehicle insurance(1)

745.285   745.285 -18.5 0.0  

Medical care

450.915   469.718 -1.6 4.2  


127.309   128.930 1.8 1.3  

Education and communication(3)

155.472   158.999 4.1 2.3  

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

1,272.601   1,312.470 4.4 3.1  

Other goods and services

456.912   457.205 5.0 0.1  

Commodity and service group


198.503   199.588 8.8 0.5  

Commodities less food and beverages

161.478   161.386 11.8 -0.1  

Nondurables less food and beverages

204.398   204.967 11.2 0.3  


114.798   114.399 12.4 -0.3  


338.820   340.663 2.2 0.5  

Special aggregate indexes

All items less shelter

250.688   252.380 5.8 0.7  

All items less medical care

260.624   261.192 5.1 0.2  

Commodities less food

165.336   165.294 11.7 0.0  


238.101   240.487 7.1 1.0  

Nondurables less food

208.967   209.634 10.8 0.3  

Services less rent of shelter(2)

371.731   374.844 2.0 0.8  

Services less medical care services

327.845   327.879 2.7 0.0  


234.107 236.691 237.847 20.5 1.6 0.5

All items less energy

274.208   275.503 3.6 0.5  

All items less food and energy

273.650   274.446 3.5 0.3  

(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, September 14, 2021