Department of Labor Logo United States Department of Labor
Dot gov

The .gov means it's official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you're on a federal government site.

Https

The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

News Release Information

21-1088-PHI
Thursday, June 10, 2021

Contacts

Technical information:
Media contact:

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
Month 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
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 0.9 2.2 0.5 0.8 0.5 1.6 0.7 1.5

March

0.4 1.1 -0.1 1.8 0.7 1.6 -0.4 0.4 0.7 2.6

May

0.0 0.3 0.7 2.5 0.6 1.6 0.1 -0.1 1.3 3.8

July

0.0 0.5 0.1 2.5 -0.3 1.2 0.6 0.8

September

0.9 1.7 0.4 2.0 0.1 0.9 0.6 1.2

November

0.0 1.5 -0.7 1.3 -0.2 1.5 0.0 1.4

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 category Indexes Percent change from
Historical
data
Mar.
2021
Apr.
2021
May
2021
May
2020
Mar.
2021
Apr.
2021

All items

272.347   275.822 3.8 1.3  

Food and beverages

264.450   265.739 1.2 0.5  

Food

271.408   272.558 1.4 0.4  

Food at home

254.400 255.311 251.776 -2.6 -1.0 -1.4

Cereals and bakery products

326.575   321.989 -3.0 -1.4  

Meats, poultry, fish, and eggs

281.438   281.234 -2.5 -0.1  

Dairy and related products

247.690   246.835 -0.6 -0.3  

Fruits and vegetables

263.387   263.719 -3.9 0.1  

Nonalcoholic beverages and beverage materials(1)

223.093   218.427 -5.4 -2.1  

Other food at home

212.571   207.585 -1.0 -2.3  

Food away from home

293.428   298.792 5.5 1.8  

Alcoholic beverages

198.978   201.312 -1.6 1.2  

Housing

286.593   286.413 1.6 -0.1  

Shelter

344.838 345.045 343.512 0.9 -0.4 -0.4

Rent of primary residence

378.241 377.523 376.500 0.1 -0.5 -0.3

Owners' equivalent rent of residences(2)

353.312 353.587 350.763 1.0 -0.7 -0.8

Owners' equivalent rent of primary residence(2)

353.312 353.587 350.763 1.0 -0.7 -0.8

Fuels and utilities

239.775   244.459 3.6 2.0  

Household energy

184.206 188.753 188.426 3.4 2.3 -0.2

Energy services

188.925 193.171 192.824 3.3 2.1 -0.2

Electricity

202.504 202.658 201.235 -2.7 -0.6 -0.7

Utility (piped) gas service

151.312 161.833 163.258 17.7 7.9 0.9

Household furnishings and operations

114.416   115.467 5.8 0.9  

Apparel

148.062   156.839 7.6 5.9  

Transportation

216.225   230.898 15.7 6.8  

Private transportation

221.983   235.825 17.4 6.2  

New and used motor vehicles(3)

97.749   107.464 15.8 9.9  

New vehicles(1)

193.573   203.406 5.0 5.1  

Used cars and trucks(1)

329.104   384.967 29.6 17.0  

Motor fuel

264.353 267.452 281.278 51.2 6.4 5.2

Gasoline (all types)

261.379 264.591 278.360 51.7 6.5 5.2

Gasoline, unleaded regular(4)

255.369 258.338 271.977 53.3 6.5 5.3

Gasoline, unleaded midgrade(4)(5)

267.615 271.413 284.637 44.8 6.4 4.9

Gasoline, unleaded premium(4)

278.163 282.852 296.172 41.4 6.5 4.7

Motor vehicle insurance(1)

808.251   822.360 14.8 1.7  

Medical care

498.579   497.740 0.7 -0.2  

Recreation(3)

117.865   118.127 1.3 0.2  

Education and communication(3)

156.718   157.126 2.5 0.3  

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

1,441.837   1,447.953 2.8 0.4  

Other goods and services

441.963   442.296 4.9 0.1  

Commodity and service group

Commodities

185.673   191.232 6.9 3.0  

Commodities less food and beverages

146.153   153.658 12.1 5.1  

Nondurables less food and beverages

193.569   200.086 13.3 3.4  

Durables

102.270   109.578 10.8 7.1  

Services

350.993   351.853 2.0 0.2  

Special aggregate indexes

All items less shelter

243.173   248.215 5.2 2.1  

All items less medical care

261.660   265.336 4.1 1.4  

Commodities less food

148.570   155.798 11.1 4.9  

Nondurables

228.204   231.839 5.6 1.6  

Nondurables less food

193.721   199.732 11.3 3.1  

Services less rent of shelter(2)

369.630   373.014 3.2 0.9  

Services less medical care services

335.854   336.999 2.1 0.3  

Energy

223.130 227.141 232.988 24.1 4.4 2.6

All items less energy

279.685   282.789 2.9 1.1  

All items less food and energy

282.341   285.861 3.2 1.2  

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