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20-591-BOS
Friday, April 10, 2020

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Consumer Price Index, Boston-Cambridge-Newton — March 2020

Area prices little changed over two months; up 1.8 percent from a year ago

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) in the Boston-Cambridge-Newton area was little changed in March, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Regional Commissioner William J. Sibley noted that this was mainly attributable to higher food prices, up 1.7 percent and to a lesser extent, higher all items less food and energy prices, up 0.2 percent. Lower energy prices down 4.1 percent nearly offset the increase. (Data in this report are not seasonally adjusted. Accordingly, bimonthly changes may reflect the impact of seasonal influences.)

Over the last 12 months, the Boston CPI-U rose 1.8 percent.  The increase was largely attributable to higher shelter costs within all items less food and energy, up 3.6 percent, and, to a lesser extent, higher food costs, up 2.3 percent.  Lower energy prices down 4.4 percent partially offset the increase.   (See chart 1.)

Food

Food prices increased 1.7 percent since January, mainly due to higher food at home or grocery store prices, up 2.7 percent. Higher food at home prices were mainly driven by higher prices for fruits and vegetables category, up 5.7 percent.

Food prices increased 2.3 percent over the year, mainly due to higher grocery store and food away from home or restaurant prices, up 2.0 percent and 2.8 percent, respectively. 

Energy

The energy index decreased 4.1 percent over the two months, mainly due to lower gasoline prices, down 4.9 percent. 

Energy prices decreased 4.4 percent from a year ago, mainly due to lower gasoline prices, down 2.9 percent. 

All items less food and energy

The index for all items less food and energy edged up from January (0.2 percent) mainly due to higher apparel costs, up 5.3 percent, and to a lesser extent, shelter costs, up 0.3 percent.  Within shelter, higher costs for owners’ equivalent rent of residences, up 0.3 percent led the increase.  Also contributing to the overall increase was medical care costs, up 1.4 percent.  Lower public transportation costs partially offset the overall increase.

Over the year, the index for all items less food and energy rose 2.3 percent, with higher shelter costs being the main driver of the increase, up 3.6 percent.  Within shelter, higher costs for owners’ equivalent rent of residences, up 3.8 percent, and to a lesser extent, rent of primary residence, up 2.8 percent, led the increase.  Also contributing to the overall increase in prices within all items less food and energy were higher medical care costs, up 8.2 percent, and, to a lesser extent, higher costs within education and communication, up 3.0 percent.  Lower apparel prices, down, 7.8 percent partially offset the overall increase.

CPI-W

In March, the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) was 284.368. The CPI-W remained unchanged over two months and increased 1.8 percent over the year.

The May 2020 Consumer Price Index for Boston-Cambridge-Newton is scheduled to be released on Wednesday, June 10, 2020, at 8:30 a.m. (ET).

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Impact on March 2020 Consumer Price Index Data

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) program suspended data collection by personal visit on 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 being 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/bls/effects-of-covid-19-pandemic-on-bls-price-indexes.htm#CPI. Specific information about the impact of COVID-19 on March 2020 CPI data collection is available at https://www.bls.gov/cpi/additional-resources/covid19-statement-march-2020.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 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 Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Mass.-N.H. Core Based Statistical Area covered in this release is comprised of Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth, Suffolk Counties in Massachusetts; Rockingham, Strafford Counties in New Hampshire.

Information from this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: 202-691-5200; Federal Relay Service: 1-800-877-8339. 

Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U): Indexes and percent changes for selected periods, Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Ma.-N.H. (1982-84=100 unless otherwise noted) (not seasonally adjusted)
Expenditure categoryIndexesPercent change from
Historical
data
Jan.
2020
Feb.
2020
Mar.
2020
Mar.
2019
Jan.
2020
Feb.
2020

All items

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASA0
285.181 285.5441.80.1 

All items (1967 = 100)

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11AAA0
828.885 829.940   

Food and beverages

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASAF
272.010 276.0012.31.5 

Food

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASAF1
273.800 278.5022.31.7 

Food at home

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASAF11
255.070259.914262.0692.02.70.8

Cereal and bakery products

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASAF111
298.315 307.2260.63.0 

Meats, poultry, fish, and eggs

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASAF112
259.386 263.6724.21.7 

Dairy and related products

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASEFJ
284.306 288.2072.01.4 

Fruits and vegetables

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASAF113
325.557 344.076-0.55.7 

Nonalcoholic beverages and beverage materials(1)

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASAF114
166.393 167.6980.00.8 

Other food at home

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASAF115
205.235 210.7544.42.7 

Food away from home

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASEFV
306.598 307.2212.80.2 

Alcoholic beverages

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASAF116
256.173 252.7682.4-1.3 

Housing

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASAH
299.489 299.5262.80.0 

Shelter

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASAH1
355.029356.552356.2393.60.3-0.1

Rent of primary residence(2)

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASEHA
368.015368.169367.4962.8-0.1-0.2

Owners' equivalent rent of residences(2)(3)(4)

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASEHC
379.229379.875380.5533.80.30.2

Owners' equivalent rent of primary residence(2)(3)(4)

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASEHC01
379.229379.875380.5533.80.30.2

Fuels and utilities

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASAH2
305.656 296.581-4.5-3.0 

Household energy

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASAH21
258.711254.570249.266-5.5-3.7-2.1

Energy services(2)

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASEHF
273.616271.991273.424-1.5-0.10.5

Electricity(2)

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASEHF01
312.677309.899312.350-1.1-0.10.8

Utility (piped) gas service(2)

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASEHF02
199.773199.773199.773-2.40.00.0

Household furnishings and operations

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASAH3
130.559 130.5693.90.0 

Apparel

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASAA
129.316 136.220-7.85.3 

Transportation

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASAT
192.241 186.954-3.3-2.8 

Private transportation

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASAT1
193.330 190.475-2.1-1.5 

New and used motor vehicles(5)

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASETA
105.369     

New Vehicles(1)

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASETA01
220.052     

Used cars and trucks(1)

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASETA02
311.192 320.5880.13.0 

Motor fuel

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASETB
223.300218.103212.385-2.9-4.9-2.6

Gasoline (all types)

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASETB01
220.711215.603209.953-2.9-4.9-2.6

Gasoline, unleaded regular(6)

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASS47014
213.570208.264202.771-3.2-5.1-2.6

Gasoline, unleaded midgrade(6)(7)

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASS47015
236.923235.470231.0140.5-2.5-1.9

Gasoline, unleaded premium(6)

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASS47016
235.483232.167226.075-1.2-4.0-2.6

Motor vehicle insurance(1)

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASETE
      

Medical care

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASAM
703.603 713.3168.21.4 

Recreation(5)

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASAR
123.000 122.892-1.4-0.1 

Education and communication(5)

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASAE
170.780 170.3373.0-0.3 

Tuition, other fees, and child care(1)

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASEEB
1,398.308 1,398.3083.70.0 

Other goods and services

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASAG
512.043 513.2282.60.2 

Commodity and service group

Commodities

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASAC
192.467 192.525-0.60.0 

Commodities less food and beverages

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASACL11
151.395 149.849-2.8-1.0 

Nondurables less food and beverages

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASANL11
195.641 192.606-5.2-1.6 

Durables

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASAD
108.668 108.3100.7-0.3 

Services

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASAS
368.670 369.3043.00.2 

Special aggregate indexes

All items less shelter

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASA0L2
259.784 259.7780.70.0 

All items less medical care

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASA0L5
269.316 269.3561.40.0 

Commodities less food

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASACL1
155.571 153.955-2.5-1.0 

Nondurables

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASAN
232.817 233.166-1.00.1 

Nondurables less food

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASANL1
199.108 196.062-4.5-1.5 

Services less rent of shelter(3)

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASASL2RS
401.880 401.7382.10.0 

Services less medical care services

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASASL5
344.832 344.6202.2-0.1 

Energy

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASA0E
241.489236.936231.503-4.4-4.1-2.3

All items less energy

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASA0LE
293.324 294.5012.30.4 

All items less food and energy

Go to web page with historical data for series CUURS11ASA0L1E
297.564 298.1742.30.2 

Footnotes
(1) Indexes on a January 1978=100 base.
(2) This index series was calculated using a Laspeyres estimator. All other item stratum index series were calculated using a geometric means estimator.
(3) Indexes on a November 1982=100 base.
(4) This index series underwent a change in composition in January 2010. The expenditure class now includes weight from secondary residences, and has been re-titled "Owners' equivalent rent of residences." The item stratum "Owners' equivalent rent of primary residence" excludes secondary residences.
(5) Indexes on a December 1997=100 base.
(6) Special index based on a substantially smaller sample.
(7) Indexes on a December 1993=100 base.

Note: Index applies to a month as a whole, not to any specific date.

 

Last Modified Date: Friday, April 10, 2020