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News Release Information

Wednesday, October 13, 2021


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Area prices were down 0.1 percent over the past two months, up 4.0 percent from a year ago

Prices in the Boston area, as measured by the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U), inched down 0.1 percent for the two months ending in September 2021, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. (See table 1.) Regional Commissioner William J. Sibley noted that the September decrease was influenced by lower prices for all items less food and energy, led by lower prices within new and used motor vehicles and shelter, down 5.2 and 0.7 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 increased 4.0 percent. (See chart 1 and table 1.) The index for all items less food and energy increased 2.7 percent over the year. Higher new and used motor vehicles and shelter costs, up 18.5 and 2.1 percent, respectively, led the increase. Energy prices jumped 26.1 percent, largely the result of an increase in the price of gasoline. This was the second-largest annual increase in the local energy index since September 2008 (26.9 percent). Food prices increased 3.8 percent. (See table 1.)



Food prices advanced 0.4 percent for the two months ending in September. (See table 1.) Prices for food away from home rose 1.0 percent, and prices for food at home inched down 0.1 percent for the same period.

Over the year, food prices increased 3.8 percent. Prices for food away from home jumped 10.2 percent since a year ago, and prices for food at home declined 0.6 percent. The annual increase for prices within food away from home was the highest since a 10.7 percent advance recorded in May 1984.


The energy index rose 1.8 percent for the two months ending in September. The increase was mainly due to higher prices for gasoline (2.4 percent). Prices for natural gas service advanced 2.2 percent, and prices for electricity rose 1.3 percent for the same period.

Energy prices jumped 26.1 percent over the year, largely due to higher prices for gasoline (42.9 percent). Prices paid for natural gas service jumped 22.8 percent, and prices for electricity increased 8.9 percent during the past year.

All items less food and energy

The index for all items less food and energy declined 0.4 percent in the latest two-month period. Lower prices for new and used motor vehicles (-5.2 percent), shelter (-0.7 percent) and recreation (-2.4 percent) were partially offset by higher prices for household furnishings and operations (3.7 percent) and apparel (5.7 percent).

Over the year, the index for all items less food and energy increased 2.7 percent. Components contributing to the increase included new and used motor vehicles (18.5 percent), shelter (2.1 percent) and household furnishings and operations (6.7 percent). Partly offsetting the increases was a price decrease in recreation (-1.7 percent). Within new and used motor vehicles and shelter, higher prices for used cars and trucks and owners’ equivalent rent of residences, up 27.7 and 2.1 percent, respectively, led the increases. 


In September, the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) was 294.003. The CPI-W was unchanged (0.0 percent) over two months and increased 4.4 percent over the year.

The November 2021 Consumer Price Index for Boston-Cambridge-Newton area is scheduled to be released on Friday, December 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


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

295.211   294.784 4.0 -0.1  

All items (1967 = 100)

858.038   856.798      

Food and beverages

292.389   293.080 3.5 0.2  


294.819   295.902 3.8 0.4  

Food at home

266.042 265.213 265.694 -0.6 -0.1 0.2

Cereal and bakery products

318.899   315.229 -1.5 -1.2  

Meats, poultry, fish, and eggs

281.663   290.701 1.7 3.2  

Dairy and related products

284.953   292.393 0.5 2.6  

Fruits and vegetables

353.643   348.637 -1.6 -1.4  

Nonalcoholic beverages and beverage materials(1)

163.862   153.896 -5.4 -6.1  

Other food at home

206.251   207.020 0.7 0.4  

Food away from home

345.397   349.016 10.2 1.0  

Alcoholic beverages

270.066   266.659 0.4 -1.3  


308.394   308.126 3.5 -0.1  


369.208 367.342 366.527 2.1 -0.7 -0.2

Rent of primary residence(2)

376.720 378.719 379.339 1.1 0.7 0.2

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

393.353 393.270 393.473 2.1 0.0 0.1

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

393.353 393.270 393.473 2.1 0.0 0.1

Fuels and utilities

293.118   296.749 13.5 1.2  

Household energy

243.038 246.359 246.512 15.3 1.4 0.1

Energy services(2)

255.028 258.971 259.035 12.8 1.6 0.0


303.295 307.157 307.267 8.9 1.3 0.0

Utility (piped) gas service(2)

170.928 174.637 174.637 22.8 2.2 0.0

Household furnishings and operations

132.104   137.056 6.7 3.7  


123.164   130.189 0.9 5.7  


213.981   208.309 15.2 -2.7  

Private transportation

221.406   217.117 17.7 -1.9  

New and used motor vehicles(5)

129.892   123.094 18.5 -5.2  

New Vehicles(1)

221.544   205.640 0.7 -7.2  

Used cars and trucks(1)

463.292   443.423 27.7 -4.3  

Motor fuel

262.656 265.298 268.814 42.6 2.3 1.3

Gasoline (all types)

259.918 262.543 266.082 42.9 2.4 1.3

Gasoline, unleaded regular(6)

252.324 254.867 258.365 44.6 2.4 1.4

Gasoline, unleaded midgrade(6)(7)

278.812 281.661 285.168 35.8 2.3 1.2

Gasoline, unleaded premium(6)

271.253 274.021 277.308 32.5 2.2 1.2

Motor vehicle insurance(1)


Medical care

695.077   700.889 0.9 0.8  


117.886   115.026 -1.7 -2.4  

Education and communication(5)

174.151   175.585 1.5 0.8  

Tuition, other fees, and child care(1)

1,431.936   1,433.804 0.8 0.1  

Other goods and services

529.524   532.796 3.8 0.6  

Commodity and service group


205.805   207.145 8.0 0.7  

Commodities less food and beverages

161.264   162.809 11.6 1.0  

Nondurables less food and beverages

199.413   205.838 12.1 3.2  


122.270   120.164 11.0 -1.7  


375.860   373.876 2.2 -0.5  

Special aggregate indexes

All items less shelter

268.168   268.736 5.2 0.2  

All items less medical care

279.928   279.290 4.3 -0.2  

Commodities less food

165.616   166.996 10.9 0.8  


244.607   248.276 7.0 1.5  

Nondurables less food

203.614   209.272 10.9 2.8  

Services less rent of shelter(3)

399.686   398.608 2.2 -0.3  

Services less medical care services

352.709   350.404 2.4 -0.7  


249.249 252.253 253.829 26.1 1.8 0.6

All items less energy

303.697   302.873 2.8 -0.3  

All items less food and energy

306.249   305.112 2.7 -0.4  

(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: Wednesday, October 13, 2021