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21-679-PHI
Tuesday, April 13, 2021

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Consumer Price Index, Washington-Arlington-Alexandria – March 2021

Area prices up 0.7 percent since January, 2.6 percent over the year

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) for Washington-Arlington-Alexandria increased 0.7 percent from January to March, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Alexandra Hall Bovee, the Bureau’s regional commissioner, noted that the recent increase was due largely to an increase in the energy index, up 10.3 percent. The all items less food and energy index also increased since January, up 0.3 percent, while the food index edged down 0.2 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 2.6 percent, due mostly to a 2.0-percent rise in the all items less food and energy index. (See chart 1 and table A.) Since March 2020, the food index and the energy index also increased, up 3.7 and 10.2 percent, respectively. (See table 1.)

Food

Following a 1.0-percent rise from November to January, the food index decreased 0.2 percent over the last 2 months. Prices for food away from home declined 0.9 percent, and those for food at home increased 0.5 percent. Within the food at home component, prices were higher for carbonated drinks and citrus fruits, as well as uncooked beef steaks, while prices were lower for milk, among others.

Food prices increased 3.7 percent over the year. Prices were higher for both food away from home (4.6 percent) and for food at home (2.7 percent) since March 2020.

Energy

Since January, the energy index, which includes prices for household and transportation fuels, increased 10.3 percent, due largely to higher prices for gasoline (17.5 percent). Prices were also higher for utility (piped) gas (14.7 percent), while those for electricity were lower (-0.5 percent) over the past 2 months.

Energy prices advanced 10.2 percent since March 2020, due largely to a rise in gasoline prices, up 20.7 percent. Over the year, prices also increased for utility (piped) gas service, up 18.5 percent, while those for electricity decreased, down 5.2 percent.

All items less food and energy

The index for all items less food and energy edged up 0.3 percent since January. The advance was led by higher prices for recreation (2.6 percent) and shelter (0.2 percent), particularly owners’ equivalent rent of residences (0.4 percent) over the last 2 months. Prices were also higher for new and used motor vehicles (1.0 percent) and other goods and services (0.7 percent).

Since March 2020, the index for all items less food and energy rose 2.0 percent. Prices were higher for shelter (2.4 percent) and medical care (6.9 percent), among others. Prices decreased for apparel (-6.5 percent) since March 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

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 May 2021 is scheduled to be released on Thursday, June 10, 2021, at 8:30 a.m. (EDT).

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Impact on March 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 March 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
Jan.
2021
Feb.
2021
Mar.
2021
Mar.
2020
Jan.
2021
Feb.
2021

All items

270.535   272.347 2.6 0.7  

Food and beverages

264.780   264.450 3.3 -0.1  

Food

271.960   271.408 3.7 -0.2  

Food at home

253.094 257.674 254.400 2.7 0.5 -1.3

Cereals and bakery products

325.930   326.575 9.3 0.2  

Meats, poultry, fish, and eggs

277.715   281.438 0.6 1.3  

Dairy and related products

241.934   247.690 0.7 2.4  

Fruits and vegetables

263.970   263.387 0.4 -0.2  

Nonalcoholic beverages and beverage materials(1)

221.859   223.093 3.5 0.6  

Other food at home

213.377   212.571 4.1 -0.4  

Food away from home

296.055   293.428 4.6 -0.9  

Alcoholic beverages

197.556   198.978 -0.4 0.7  

Housing

285.565   286.593 2.5 0.4  

Shelter

344.056 344.499 344.838 2.4 0.2 0.1

Rent of primary residence

378.504 378.324 378.241 1.2 -0.1 0.0

Owners' equivalent rent of residences(2)

351.958 353.178 353.312 2.2 0.4 0.0

Owners' equivalent rent of primary residence(2)

351.958 353.178 353.312 2.2 0.4 0.0

Fuels and utilities

233.361   239.775 1.7 2.7  

Household energy

177.923 177.896 184.206 0.8 3.5 3.5

Energy services

181.943 181.770 188.925 1.2 3.8 3.9

Electricity

203.559 202.048 202.504 -5.2 -0.5 0.2

Utility (piped) gas service

131.896 133.904 151.312 18.5 14.7 13.0

Household furnishings and operations

114.780   114.416 4.5 -0.3  

Apparel

147.564   148.062 -6.5 0.3  

Transportation

211.250   216.225 2.3 2.4  

Private transportation

213.801   221.983 4.0 3.8  

New and used motor vehicles(3)

96.789   97.749 4.0 1.0  

New vehicles(1)

195.243   193.573 -0.8 -0.9  

Used cars and trucks(1)

320.978   329.104 8.9 2.5  

Motor fuel

225.091 235.814 264.353 20.6 17.4 12.1

Gasoline (all types)

222.390 233.033 261.379 20.7 17.5 12.2

Gasoline, unleaded regular(4)

216.086 227.131 255.369 21.4 18.2 12.4

Gasoline, unleaded midgrade(4)(5)

236.658 243.221 267.615 21.7 13.1 10.0

Gasoline, unleaded premium(4)

244.759 251.548 278.163 15.9 13.6 10.6

Motor vehicle insurance(1)

818.891   808.251 -9.9 -1.3  

Medical care

498.887   498.579 6.9 -0.1  

Recreation(3)

114.838   117.865 1.4 2.6  

Education and communication(3)

156.292   156.718 2.5 0.3  

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

1,437.884   1,441.837 2.4 0.3  

Other goods and services

438.703   441.963 3.4 0.7  

Commodity and service group

Commodities

183.861   185.673 3.0 1.0  

Commodities less food and beverages

143.352   146.153 2.7 2.0  

Nondurables less food and beverages

187.368   193.569 3.0 3.3  

Durables

101.807   102.270 2.4 0.5  

Services

349.311   350.993 2.4 0.5  

Special aggregate indexes

All items less shelter

241.041   243.173 2.8 0.9  

All items less medical care

259.748   261.660 2.3 0.7  

Commodities less food

145.844   148.570 2.5 1.9  

Nondurables

225.573   228.204 3.2 1.2  

Nondurables less food

188.097   193.721 2.6 3.0  

Services less rent of shelter(2)

366.794   369.630 2.6 0.8  

Services less medical care services

333.942   335.854 1.7 0.6  

Energy

202.311 206.977 223.130 10.2 10.3 7.8

All items less energy

279.104   279.685 2.3 0.2  

All items less food and energy

281.522   282.341 2.0 0.3  

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: Tuesday, April 13, 2021