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News Release Information

20-1223-PHI
Wednesday, June 10, 2020

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Consumer Price Index, Washington-Arlington-Alexandria – May 2020

Area prices up 0.1 percent since March, down 0.1 percent over the year

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) for Washington-Arlington-Alexandria inched up 0.1 percent from March to May, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Sheila Watkins, the Bureau’s regional commissioner, noted that the recent increase was due almost entirely to an advance in the food index, up 2.7 percent. The all items less food and energy index also increased since March, up 0.1 percent, while the energy index decreased 7.3 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 declined 0.1 percent, due to a 15.8-percent drop in the energy index. (See chart 1 and table A.) Since May 2019, the food index and all items less food and energy index both increased, up 3.3 and 0.3 percent, respectively. (See table 1.)

Food

Following a 0.7-percent increase from January to March, the food index advanced 2.7 percent over the last two months. Prices for food at home increased 4.4 percent, and those for food away from home rose 1.0 percent. Within the food at home component, prices were higher for fresh fish and seafood, uncooked beef steaks, and apples, while prices were lower for cakes, cupcakes, and cookies, among others.

Food prices increased 3.3 percent over the year. Prices were higher for both food at home (3.3 percent) and for food away from home (3.6 percent) since May 2019.

Energy

Since March, the energy index, which includes prices for household and transportation fuels, declined 7.3 percent, due almost entirely to lower prices for gasoline (-15.3 percent). Prices were also lower for electricity (-3.2 percent), while they were higher for utility (piped) gas service (8.6 percent) over the past two months.

Energy prices decreased 15.8 percent since May 2019, due to a drop in gasoline prices, down 29.1 percent. Over the year, prices also declined for both electricity and utility (piped) gas service, down 1.6 percent each.

All items less food and energy

The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.1 percent since March. The advance was led by higher prices for medical care (6.0 percent) and shelter (1.0 percent) over the last two months. Lower prices for several categories, including apparel (-8.0 percent), moderated the decrease in the all items less food and energy index from March to May.

Since May 2019, the index for all items less food and energy rose 0.3 percent. Prices were higher for shelter (2.2 percent) and medical care (8.1 percent), among others. Prices decreased for apparel (-14.5 percent) and new and used motor vehicles (-2.2 percent) since May 2019.

Table A. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV, CPI-U 2-month and 12-month percent changes, all items index, not seasonally adjusted
Month 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
2-month 12-month 2-month 12-month 2-month 12-month 2-month 12-month 2-month 12-month

January

-0.2 1.5 0.2 1.5 0.9 2.2 0.5 0.8 0.5 1.6

March

0.8 1.1 0.4 1.1 -0.1 1.8 0.7 1.6 -0.4 0.4

May

0.8 1.2 0.0 0.3 0.7 2.5 0.6 1.6 0.1 -0.1

July

-0.2 1.3 0.0 0.5 0.1 2.5 -0.3 1.2

September

-0.3 0.5 0.9 1.7 0.4 2.0 0.1 0.9

November

0.2 1.1 0.0 1.5 -0.7 1.3 -0.2 1.5

The Consumer Price Index for July 2020 is scheduled to be released on Wednesday, August 12, 2020, at 8:30 a.m. (EDT).

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Impact on May 2020 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 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 94 percent of the total population and (2) a CPI for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) which covers approximately 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 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 (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/pdf/homch17.pdf.

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 sensory impaired individuals 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 category Indexes Percent change from
Historical
data
Mar.
2020
Apr.
2020
May
2020
May
2019
Mar.
2020
Apr.
2020

All items

265.385   265.733 -0.1 0.1  

Food and beverages

255.983   262.716 3.2 2.6  

Food

261.802   268.742 3.3 2.7  

Food at home

247.673 253.587 258.490 3.3 4.4 1.9

Cereals and bakery products

298.796   331.780 2.6 11.0  

Meats, poultry, fish, and eggs

279.805   288.337 6.0 3.0  

Dairy and related products

245.925   248.392 6.7 1.0  

Fruits and vegetables

262.300   274.317 -3.0 4.6  

Nonalcoholic beverages and beverage materials(1)

215.465   230.958 7.0 7.2  

Other food at home

204.270   209.750 3.0 2.7  

Food away from home

280.506   283.206 3.6 1.0  

Alcoholic beverages

199.806   204.642 1.3 2.4  

Housing

279.541   281.831 1.7 0.8  

Shelter

336.903 339.083 340.432 2.2 1.0 0.4

Rent of primary residence

373.812 374.170 376.139 3.1 0.6 0.5

Owners' equivalent rent of residences(2)

345.797 346.608 347.301 2.3 0.4 0.2

Owners' equivalent rent of primary residence(2)

345.797 346.608 347.301 2.3 0.4 0.2

Fuels and utilities

235.829   235.985 -0.1 0.1  

Household energy

182.672 184.156 182.153 -1.5 -0.3 -1.1

Energy services

186.709 188.846 186.651 -1.5 0.0 -1.2

Electricity

213.653 212.930 206.758 -1.6 -3.2 -2.9

Utility (piped) gas service

127.643 134.233 138.659 -1.6 8.6 3.3

Household furnishings and operations

109.537   109.108 -0.9 -0.4  

Apparel

158.328   145.728 -14.5 -8.0  

Transportation

211.419   199.491 -9.5 -5.6  

Private transportation

213.440   200.810 -8.3 -5.9  

New and used motor vehicles(3)

94.007   92.793 -2.2 -1.3  

New vehicles(1)

195.231   193.697 -2.5 -0.8  

Used cars and trucks(1)

302.329   296.938 -0.3 -1.8  

Motor fuel

219.235 190.963 185.973 -29.0 -15.2 -2.6

Gasoline (all types)

216.592 188.432 183.554 -29.1 -15.3 -2.6

Gasoline, unleaded regular(4)

210.387 182.036 177.454 -29.9 -15.7 -2.5

Gasoline, unleaded midgrade(4)(5)

219.867 203.999 196.620 -23.9 -10.6 -3.6

Gasoline, unleaded premium(4)

239.926 215.806 209.387 -23.6 -12.7 -3.0

Motor vehicle insurance(1)

897.449   716.556 -14.9 -20.2  

Medical care

466.517   494.352 8.1 6.0  

Recreation(3)

116.268   116.638 -1.4 0.3  

Education and communication(3)

152.898   153.315 1.6 0.3  

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

1,407.834   1,408.013 2.1 0.0  

Other goods and services

427.390   421.483 0.9 -1.4  

Commodity and service group

Commodities

180.294   178.880 -3.1 -0.8  

Commodities less food and beverages

142.299   137.058 -7.8 -3.7  

Nondurables less food and beverages

187.904   176.585 -12.1 -6.0  

Durables

99.909   98.872 -2.5 -1.0  

Services

342.738   345.058 1.6 0.7  

Special aggregate indexes

All items less shelter

236.658   235.921 -1.3 -0.3  

All items less medical care

255.878   254.935 -0.8 -0.4  

Commodities less food

144.960   140.240 -7.2 -3.3  

Nondurables

221.139   219.595 -3.3 -0.7  

Nondurables less food

188.833   179.438 -10.7 -5.0  

Services less rent of shelter(2)

360.379   361.365 0.8 0.3  

Services less medical care services

330.342   329.913 0.6 -0.1  

Energy

202.529 191.050 187.699 -15.8 -7.3 -1.8

All items less energy

273.522   274.879 0.8 0.5  

All items less food and energy

276.872   277.075 0.3 0.1  

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: Wednesday, June 10, 2020