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News Release Information

20-1955-PHI
Tuesday, October 13, 2020

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

Area prices up 0.6 percent since July, 1.2 percent over the year

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) for Washington-Arlington-Alexandria advanced 0.6 percent from July to September, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Sheila Watkins, the Bureau’s regional commissioner, noted that the recent increase was due to advances in the all items less food and energy index, up 0.5 percent, and the food index, up 1.3 percent; the energy index decreased 1.4 percent over the month. (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 1.2 percent, due largely to a 5.3-percent rise in the food index. (See chart 1 and table A.) Since September 2019, the all items less food and energy index also increased, up 0.9 percent, while the energy index decreased 6.1 percent. (See table 1.)

Food

Following a 0.3-percent decrease from May to July, the food index increased 1.3 percent over the last two months. Prices for food away from home increased 2.4 percent, and those for food at home rose 0.3 percent. Within the food at home component, prices were higher for breakfast cereal and apples, while prices were lower for bread, eggs, and potatoes, among others.

Food prices increased 5.3 percent over the year. Prices were higher for both food away from home (6.5 percent) and for food at home (4.3 percent) since September 2019.

Energy

Since July, the energy index, which includes prices for household and transportation fuels, declined 1.4 percent, due mainly to lower prices for utility (piped) gas service (-11.4 percent). Prices were also lower for electricity (-1.7 percent), while those for gasoline were higher (2.3 percent) over the past two months.

Energy prices decreased 6.1 percent since September 2019, due mostly to a drop in gasoline prices, down 9.5 percent. Over the year, prices also declined for electricity, down 5.2 percent, while prices were higher for utility (piped) gas service, up 4.9 percent.

All items less food and energy

The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.5 percent since July. The advance was led by higher prices for apparel (7.0 percent) and shelter (0.5 percent) over the last two months. Lower prices for several categories, including motor vehicle insurance (-9.7 percent), moderated the increase in the all items less food and energy index from July to September.

Since September 2019, the index for all items less food and energy rose 0.9 percent. Prices were higher for medical care (7.6 percent) and shelter (1.7 percent), among others. Prices decreased for apparel (-7.7 percent) and recreation (-4.2 percent) since September 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 0.6 0.8

September

-0.3 0.5 0.9 1.7 0.4 2.0 0.1 0.9 0.6 1.2

November

0.2 1.1 0.0 1.5 -0.7 1.3 -0.2 1.5

The Consumer Price Index for November 2020 is scheduled to be released on Thursday, December 10, 2020, at 8:30 a.m. (EDT).

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Impact on September 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 September 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
Jul.
2020
Aug.
2020
Sep.
2020
Sep.
2019
Jul.
2020
Aug.
2020

All items

267.287   268.788 1.2 0.6  

Food and beverages

260.635   264.518 4.8 1.5  

Food

268.037   271.655 5.3 1.3  

Food at home

255.629 254.210 256.472 4.3 0.3 0.9

Cereals and bakery products

335.828   330.632 2.5 -1.5  

Meats, poultry, fish, and eggs

286.655   276.737 3.2 -3.5  

Dairy and related products

250.465   250.878 3.4 0.2  

Fruits and vegetables

264.208   267.089 -1.9 1.1  

Nonalcoholic beverages and beverage materials(1)

220.787   222.330 3.7 0.7  

Other food at home

209.735   219.001 12.0 4.4  

Food away from home

284.894   291.645 6.5 2.4  

Alcoholic beverages

191.843   197.647 -1.4 3.0  

Housing

283.053   283.829 1.6 0.3  

Shelter

340.344 342.122 341.944 1.7 0.5 -0.1

Rent of primary residence

378.325 379.735 380.032 3.1 0.5 0.1

Owners' equivalent rent of residences(2)

349.222 350.269 350.731 2.6 0.4 0.1

Owners' equivalent rent of primary residence(2)

349.222 350.269 350.731 2.6 0.4 0.1

Fuels and utilities

243.811   236.399 -1.6 -3.0  

Household energy

189.831 180.380 181.675 -2.9 -4.3 0.7

Energy services

194.872 184.780 185.935 -3.0 -4.6 0.6

Electricity

214.326 212.347 210.697 -5.2 -1.7 -0.8

Utility (piped) gas service

147.257 124.863 130.466 4.9 -11.4 4.5

Household furnishings and operations

111.171   112.592 3.1 1.3  

Apparel

143.903   153.947 -7.7 7.0  

Transportation

210.230   208.563 -3.1 -0.8  

Private transportation

213.036   212.133 -0.2 -0.4  

New and used motor vehicles(3)

94.968   96.380 3.7 1.5  

New vehicles(1)

195.712   192.465 0.3 -1.7  

Used cars and trucks(1)

303.564   328.334 10.6 8.2  

Motor fuel

207.955 209.330 212.512 -9.6 2.2 1.5

Gasoline (all types)

205.578 206.942 210.211 -9.5 2.3 1.6

Gasoline, unleaded regular(4)

199.234 200.581 203.785 -9.9 2.3 1.6

Gasoline, unleaded midgrade(4)(5)

218.545 221.244 223.073 -5.7 2.1 0.8

Gasoline, unleaded premium(4)

230.634 231.726 235.387 -6.8 2.1 1.6

Motor vehicle insurance(1)

897.449   810.380 -5.7 -9.7  

Medical care

494.021   494.879 7.6 0.2  

Recreation(3)

110.476   111.468 -4.2 0.9  

Education and communication(3)

154.625   155.960 2.2 0.9  

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

1,414.752   1,436.779 2.0 1.6  

Other goods and services

431.885   428.164 2.8 -0.9  

Commodity and service group

Commodities

180.172   182.996 1.6 1.6  

Commodities less food and beverages

139.926   142.214 -1.0 1.6  

Nondurables less food and beverages

181.533   185.125 -3.2 2.0  

Durables

100.188   101.452 1.5 1.3  

Services

346.798   346.690 1.0 0.0  

Special aggregate indexes

All items less shelter

238.006   239.448 1.0 0.6  

All items less medical care

256.577   258.108 0.7 0.6  

Commodities less food

142.307   144.770 -1.0 1.7  

Nondurables

220.728   224.418 1.6 1.7  

Nondurables less food

182.291   186.133 -3.0 2.1  

Services less rent of shelter(2)

365.237   363.170 0.2 -0.6  

Services less medical care services

331.857   331.661 0.1 -0.1  

Energy

201.787 196.863 199.010 -6.1 -1.4 1.1

All items less energy

275.627   277.434 1.6 0.7  

All items less food and energy

278.127   279.564 0.9 0.5  

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, October 13, 2020