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News Release Information

21-1864-PHI
Wednesday, October 13, 2021

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

Area prices up 0.7 percent since July, 4.5 percent over the year

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) for Washington-Arlington-Alexandria increased 0.7 percent from July to September, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Regional Commissioner Alexandra Hall Bovee noted that the recent increase was well below the 1.3 and 1.2 percent changes in May and July, respectively.  The more moderate change was largely due to a rise in the all items less food and energy index, up 0.6 percent. The food index also increased since July, up 1.9 percent, while the energy index declined 1.8 percent over the 2-month period. (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 largest year-over-year increase since 2008. The rise was due mostly to a 3.7-percent increase in the all items less food and energy index, the largest 12-month increase since early in 2007. (See chart 1 and table A.) Since September 2020, the energy index and the food index also increased, up 21.7 and 3.7 percent, respectively. (See table 1.)

Food

Following a 1.5-percent increase from May to July, the food index advanced 1.9 percent over the last 2 months. Prices for food at home increased 2.1 percent, and those for food away from home rose 1.6 percent. Within the food at home component, prices were higher for uncooked beef steaks, among other items, while prices were lower for several categories including breakfast cereal and lettuce.

Food prices advanced 3.7 percent over the year after more moderate 12-month increases in May and July. Prices were higher for both food away from home (5.5 percent) and for food at home (1.9 percent) since September 2020.

Energy

Since July, the energy index, which includes prices for household and transportation fuels, decreased 1.8 percent, reflecting lower prices for utility (piped) gas service (-11.1 percent) and electricity (-1.0 percent) over the past 2 months. While prices were higher for gasoline (0.3 percent), that was the smallest 2-month change so far in 2021.  The decline in energy prices was the first so far in 2021.

Energy prices rose 21.7 percent since September 2020. The rise was due almost entirely to higher gasoline prices, up 36.8 percent although that was the most moderate over-the-year increase since March. Over the year, prices also increased for utility (piped) gas service, up 21.0 percent, and for electricity, up 3.8 percent.

All items less food and energy

The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.6 percent since July. The advance was led by higher prices for shelter (1.0 percent), led the owners’ equivalent rent of residences index (0.9 percent). Prices were also higher for education and communication (2.5 percent) and apparel (4.2 percent). Prices for used cars and trucks, which had 2-month increases between 2.5 and 17 percent over the previous 6 months were down 4.7 percent and public transportation prices also dropped, down 9.0 percent, helping to offset the overall increase since July.

Since September 2020, the index for all items less food and energy rose 3.7 percent. Prices were higher over the year for new and used motor vehicles (17.4 percent), due mostly to earlier large increases for used cars and trucks (25.0 percent). Prices also increased for shelter (1.9 percent) and recreation (7.0 percent) since September 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 1.2 4.4

September

0.9 1.7 0.4 2.0 0.1 0.9 0.6 1.2 0.7 4.5

November

0.0 1.5 -0.7 1.3 -0.2 1.5 0.0 1.4

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

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Impact on September 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 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 (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
Jul.
2021
Aug.
2021
Sep.
2021
Sep.
2020
Jul.
2021
Aug.
2021

All items

279.099   280.933 4.5 0.7  

Food and beverages

269.241   274.070 3.6 1.8  

Food

276.611   281.734 3.7 1.9  

Food at home

255.928 258.481 261.302 1.9 2.1 1.1

Cereals and bakery products

332.785   333.423 0.8 0.2  

Meats, poultry, fish, and eggs

287.930   301.436 8.9 4.7  

Dairy and related products

243.100   247.965 -1.2 2.0  

Fruits and vegetables

266.037   270.677 1.3 1.7  

Nonalcoholic beverages and beverage materials(1)

225.132   224.408 0.9 -0.3  

Other food at home

210.211   214.085 -2.2 1.8  

Food away from home

302.782   307.683 5.5 1.6  

Alcoholic beverages

200.346   202.667 2.5 1.2  

Housing

289.367   291.460 2.7 0.7  

Shelter

344.851 345.876 348.438 1.9 1.0 0.7

Rent of primary residence

376.998 377.453 377.966 -0.5 0.3 0.1

Owners' equivalent rent of residences(2)

353.149 354.497 356.240 1.6 0.9 0.5

Owners' equivalent rent of primary residence(2)

353.149 354.497 356.240 1.6 0.9 0.5

Fuels and utilities

262.851   255.139 7.9 -2.9  

Household energy

205.462 203.570 197.234 8.6 -4.0 -3.1

Energy services

210.935 208.817 201.829 8.5 -4.3 -3.3

Electricity

220.790 221.202 218.674 3.8 -1.0 -1.1

Utility (piped) gas service

177.531 171.492 157.863 21.0 -11.1 -7.9

Household furnishings and operations

116.723   118.137 4.9 1.2  

Apparel

150.056   156.354 1.6 4.2  

Transportation

238.844   234.184 12.3 -2.0  

Private transportation

246.441   244.199 15.1 -0.9  

New and used motor vehicles(3)

115.437   113.192 17.4 -1.9  

New vehicles(1)

208.571   212.762 10.5 2.0  

Used cars and trucks(1)

430.623   410.489 25.0 -4.7  

Motor fuel

289.802 291.129 290.520 36.7 0.2 -0.2

Gasoline (all types)

286.796 288.071 287.525 36.8 0.3 -0.2

Gasoline, unleaded regular(4)

280.275 281.489 280.947 37.9 0.2 -0.2

Gasoline, unleaded midgrade(4)(5)

293.692 295.523 294.894 32.2 0.4 -0.2

Gasoline, unleaded premium(4)

304.597 306.124 305.632 29.8 0.3 -0.2

Motor vehicle insurance(1)

822.360   827.287 2.1 0.6  

Medical care

498.539   501.250 1.3 0.5  

Recreation(3)

118.505   119.315 7.0 0.7  

Education and communication(3)

157.681   161.632 3.6 2.5  

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

1,456.345   1,505.907 4.8 3.4  

Other goods and services

454.844   452.985 5.8 -0.4  

Commodity and service group

Commodities

194.259   196.325 7.3 1.1  

Commodities less food and beverages

156.423   157.158 10.5 0.5  

Nondurables less food and beverages

199.425   202.419 9.3 1.5  

Durables

114.111   113.411 11.8 -0.6  

Services

355.176   356.617 2.9 0.4  

Special aggregate indexes

All items less shelter

252.093   253.303 5.8 0.5  

All items less medical care

268.729   270.522 4.8 0.7  

Commodities less food

158.368   159.183 10.0 0.5  

Nondurables

233.402   237.324 5.8 1.7  

Nondurables less food

199.036   201.944 8.5 1.5  

Services less rent of shelter(2)

378.685   377.697 4.0 -0.3  

Services less medical care services

340.493   341.882 3.1 0.4  

Energy

246.669 246.143 242.173 21.7 -1.8 -1.6

All items less energy

285.427   287.708 3.7 0.8  

All items less food and energy

288.213   289.913 3.7 0.6  

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, October 13, 2021