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Wednesday, August 12, 2020
The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) in the Boston-Cambridge-Newton area increased 0.2 percent in July, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Acting Regional Commissioner Mark J. Maggi noted that this was mainly attributable to higher all items less food and energy prices, up 0.2 percent, and to a lesser extent, higher energy and food prices up 0.5 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively. (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 0.8 percent. The increase was due to higher food prices, up 7.6 percent and higher costs within all item less food and energy, up 0.8 percent. Lower energy costs, down 13.8 percent, partially offset the increase. (See chart 1.)
Food prices increased 0.2 percent since May, mainly due to higher food at home or grocery store prices, up 0.5 percent. Higher food at home prices were mainly driven by higher prices for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs, up 4.3 percent and nonalcoholic beverages and beverage materials, up 4.7 percent. Food away from home, or restaurant prices, partially offset the increase and inched down since May (-0.1 percent).
Food prices increased 7.6 percent over the year, mainly due to higher grocery store prices, up 9.2 percent and to a lesser extent, higher restaurant prices, up 5.2 percent. Local food prices haven’t risen by as much since recording an 8.4 percent annual increase in March 1989. Higher grocery store prices were due to increased prices recorded across all of the published subcategories.
The energy index increased 0.5 percent over the two months, mainly due to higher gasoline prices, up 5.2 percent. This overall increase was partially offset by lower electricity and utility piped gas prices down, 3.2 percent and 4.8 percent, respectively.
Energy prices decreased 13.8 percent from a year ago, mainly due to lower gasoline prices, down 22.6 percent.
All items less food and energy
The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.2 percent mainly due to higher shelter costs, up 0.3 percent. Within shelter, higher costs for owners’ equivalent rent of residences, up 0.2 percent, led the increase. Also contributing to the overall increase in prices were higher prices in education and communication, up 0.4 percent. Lower recreation prices, down 5.2 percent and to a lesser extent, household furnishings and operations, down 0.8 percent, partially offset the increase.
Over the year, the index for all items less food and energy rose 0.8 percent, with higher shelter costs being the main driver of the increase, up 2.1 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 3.0 percent, led the increase. Also contributing to the overall increase in prices within all items less food and energy were higher costs within education and communication, up 2.9 percent, and medical care costs, up 1.5 percent. Lower prices in recreation, down 6.1 percent and to a lesser extent, lower apparel prices, down, 3.8 percent partially offset the overall increase.
In July, the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) was 281.598. The CPI-W increased 0.3 percent over two months and increased 0.9 percent over the year.
The September 2020 Consumer Price Index for Boston-Cambridge-Newton is scheduled to be released on Tuesday, October 13, 2020, at 8:30 a.m. (ET).
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 July 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 atwww.bls.gov/covid19/effects-of-covid-19-pandemic-on-consumer-price-index.htm
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.
|Expenditure category||Indexes||Percent change from|
All items (1967 = 100)
Food and beverages
Food at home
Cereal and bakery products
Meats, poultry, fish, and eggs
Dairy and related products
Fruits and vegetables
Nonalcoholic beverages and beverage materials(1)
Other food at home
Food away from home
Rent of primary residence(2)
Fuels and utilities
Utility (piped) gas service(2)
Household furnishings and operations
New and used motor vehicles(5)
Used cars and trucks(1)
Gasoline (all types)
Gasoline, unleaded regular(6)
Gasoline, unleaded premium(6)
Motor vehicle insurance(1)
Education and communication(5)
Tuition, other fees, and child care(1)
Other goods and services
Commodity and service group
Commodities less food and beverages
Nondurables less food and beverages
Special aggregate indexes
All items less shelter
All items less medical care
Commodities less food
Nondurables less food
Services less rent of shelter(3)
Services less medical care services
All items less energy
All items less food and energy
Note: Index applies to a month as a whole, not to any specific date.
Last Modified Date: Wednesday, August 12, 2020