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News Release Information

Thursday, August 12, 2021


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Consumer Price Index, Boston-Cambridge-Newton — July 2021

Area prices up 1.2 percent over two months; up 4.3 percent from a year ago

Prices in the Boston area, as measured by the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U), advanced 1.2 percent for the two months ending in July 2021, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. (See table.) Regional Commissioner William J. Sibley noted that the July increase was influenced by higher prices for all items less food and energy, led by higher shelter and new and used motor vehicle prices, up 1.8 and 7.4 percent, respectively. (Data in this report are not seasonally adjusted. Accordingly, bi-monthly changes may reflect seasonal influences.)

Over the last 12 months, the CPI-U advanced 4.3 percent. This was the largest advance since September 2008. (See chart 1 and table.) The index for all items less food and energy increased 3.3 percent over the year. Higher shelter and new and used motor vehicles costs, up 3.0 and 23.4 percent, respectively, led the increase. Energy prices jumped 24.8 percent, largely the result of an increase in the price of gasoline. Food prices increased 2.1 percent. (See table.)

(See table.)


Food prices rose 1.1 percent for the two months ending in July. (See table.) Prices for food at home crept up 0.1 percent, and prices for food away from home increased 2.5 percent for the same period.

Over the year, food prices increased 2.1 percent. Prices for food at home decreased 2.7 percent since a year ago, and prices for food away from home increased 9.4 percent.


The energy index rose 1.5 percent for the two months ending in July. The decrease was mainly due to higher prices for gasoline (4.5 percent). Prices for natural gas service were unchanged, and prices for  electricity decreased 1.1 percent for the same period.

Energy prices jumped 24.8 percent over the year, largely due to higher prices for gasoline (43.8 percent). Prices paid for natural gas service jumped 19.3 percent, and prices for electricity advanced 5.7 percent during the past year.

All items less food and energy

The index for all items less food and energy increased 1.2 percent in the latest two-month period. Higher prices for shelter (1.8 percent), new and used motor vehicles (7.4 percent), and recreation (1.1 percent) were partially offset by lower prices for apparel (-4.1 percent) and medical care (-0.5 percent).  Higher shelter costs were attributable to increased owners’ equivalent rent of residences costs, up 0.7 percent.  Within new and used motor vehicles, higher costs for used cars and trucks, up 12.3 percent, drove the increase.

Over the year, the index for all items less food and energy increased 3.3 percent. Components contributing to the increase included shelter (3.0 percent) and new and used motor vehicles (23.4 percent). Within shelter, higher prices within owners’ equivalent rent of residences led the increase (2.2 percent). Within new and used motor vehicles, higher prices for used cars and trucks led the advance (43.7 percent). This was the largest yearly advance since the series began in November 2017. Partly offsetting the increases were price decreases in apparel (-0.4 percent) and medical care (-0.1 percent).


In July, the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) was 294.075. The CPI-W increased 1.2 percent over two months and increased 4.4 percent over the year.

The September 2021 Consumer Price Index for Boston-Cambridge-Newton area is scheduled to be released on Wednesday, October 13, 2021, at 8:30 a.m. (ET).

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Impact on July 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 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


Technical Note

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a measures 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 and the CPI section of the BLS Handbook of Methods available on the internet at

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 category Indexes Percent change from

All items

291.667   295.211 4.3 1.2  

All items (1967 = 100)

847.738   858.038      

Food and beverages

289.240   292.389 2.3 1.1  


291.594   294.819 2.1 1.1  

Food at home

265.725 265.015 266.042 -2.7 0.1 0.4

Cereal and bakery products

319.379   318.899 -1.8 -0.2  

Meats, poultry, fish, and eggs

283.348   281.663 -5.3 -0.6  

Dairy and related products

290.198   284.953 -3.0 -1.8  

Fruits and vegetables

347.441   353.643 0.7 1.8  

Nonalcoholic beverages and beverage materials(1)

168.617   163.862 -4.2 -2.8  

Other food at home

202.702   206.251 -2.9 1.8  

Food away from home

337.021   345.397 9.4 2.5  

Alcoholic beverages

267.683   270.066 5.1 0.9  


304.058   308.394 3.8 1.4  


362.801 368.092 369.208 3.0 1.8 0.3

Rent of primary residence(2)

375.599 376.991 376.720 1.5 0.3 -0.1

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

390.503 390.685 393.353 2.2 0.7 0.7

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

390.503 390.685 393.353 2.2 0.7 0.7

Fuels and utilities

294.889   293.118 11.9 -0.6  

Household energy

244.715 245.187 243.038 12.9 -0.7 -0.9

Energy services(2)

257.078 258.005 255.028 9.5 -0.8 -1.2


306.803 308.385 303.295 5.7 -1.1 -1.7

Utility (piped) gas service(2)

170.924 170.927 170.928 19.3 0.0 0.0

Household furnishings and operations

131.507   132.104 4.4 0.5  


128.455   123.164 -0.4 -4.1  


206.781   213.981 17.6 3.5  

Private transportation

211.085   221.406 20.1 4.9  

New and used motor vehicles(5)

120.889   129.892 23.4 7.4  

New Vehicles(1)

211.375   221.544 3.2 4.8  

Used cars and trucks(1)

412.651   463.292 43.7 12.3  

Motor fuel

251.448 256.887 262.656 43.5 4.5 2.2

Gasoline (all types)

248.840 254.172 259.918 43.8 4.5 2.3

Gasoline, unleaded regular(6)

241.364 246.649 252.324 45.7 4.5 2.3

Gasoline, unleaded midgrade(6)(7)

267.241 272.908 278.812 35.4 4.3 2.2

Gasoline, unleaded premium(6)

261.125 265.915 271.253 32.5 3.9 2.0

Motor vehicle insurance(1)


Medical care

698.880   695.077 -0.1 -0.5  


116.623   117.886 1.0 1.1  

Education and communication(5)

173.280   174.151 1.5 0.5  

Tuition, other fees, and child care(1)

1,424.214   1,431.936 2.3 0.5  

Other goods and services

522.728   529.524 2.5 1.3  

Commodity and service group


202.069   205.805 7.8 1.8  

Commodities less food and beverages

157.457   161.264 12.2 2.4  

Nondurables less food and beverages

198.430   199.413 10.7 0.5  


116.681   122.270 14.2 4.8  


372.461   375.860 2.6 0.9  

Special aggregate indexes

All items less shelter

265.827   268.168 5.1 0.9  

All items less medical care

276.152   279.928 4.6 1.4  

Commodities less food

161.844   165.616 11.8 2.3  


242.577   244.607 5.7 0.8  

Nondurables less food

202.531   203.614 10.1 0.5  

Services less rent of shelter(3)

400.335   399.686 2.2 -0.2  

Services less medical care services

348.836   352.709 3.0 1.1  


245.456 248.027 249.249 24.8 1.5 0.5

All items less energy

300.114   303.697 3.2 1.2  

All items less food and energy

302.595   306.249 3.3 1.2  

(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: Thursday, August 12, 2021