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19-1820-BOS
Friday, October 11, 2019

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Consumer Price Index, Boston-Cambridge-Newton — September 2019

Area prices increased by 0.2 percent over two months; up 1.1 percent from a year ago

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) in the Boston-Cambridge-Newton area increased 0.2 percent in September, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.  Regional Commissioner Deborah A. Brown noted that this was mainly attributable to higher prices within all items less food and energy, up 0.6 percent.  Lower energy prices, down 2.2 percent, and, to a lesser extent, lower food prices, down 0.7 percent, partially 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 1.1 percent. The increase was largely attributable to higher prices within all items less food and energy, up 1.9 percent. Lower energy prices, down 5.4 percent, and, to a lesser extent, lower food prices, down 1.0 percent, partially offset the increase.  (See chart 1.)

Food

Food prices decreased 0.7 percent since July, mainly due to lower food at home or grocery prices, down 1.5 percent. Higher food away from home or restaurant prices, up 0.5 percent, partially offset the decrease. Lower food at home prices were mainly driven by lower fruits and vegetables prices, down 8.8 percent.

Food prices decreased 1.0 percent over the year, due to lower grocery store prices, down 3.1 percent. Partially offsetting this decrease, were higher restaurant prices, up 2.4 percent.  Lower grocery store prices were mainly driven by lower fruits and vegetable prices, down 17.7 percent.

Energy

The energy index decreased 2.2 percent over the two months, mainly driven by lower gasoline prices, down 4.1 percent.

Energy prices were down 5.4 percent from a year ago, largely attributable to lower gasoline prices, down 9.7 percent.  Lower prices for electricity and utility (piped) gas, down 0.9 and 1.0 percent, respectively, also contributed to the decrease.

All items less food and energy

The index for all items less food and energy increased from July (0.6 percent) mainly due to higher apparel costs, up 12.8 percent and followed normal seasonal patterns, and higher education and communication costs, up 1.8 percent.  Lower recreation costs, down 2.5 percent, and lower prices for new and used motor vehicles, down 1.7 percent, partially offset the increase.

Over the year, the index for all items less food and energy rose 1.9 percent, with higher shelter costs being the main driver of the increase, up 3.1 percent. Within shelter, higher costs for owners’ equivalent rent of residences, up 3.5 percent, and to a lesser extent, higher rent of primary residence, up 3.0 percent, led the increase. Higher medical care and education and communication costs, up 6.0 and 1.7 percent, respectively, also contributed to the overall increase.  Within education and communication expenses, higher tuition and child care costs, up 3.4 percent, led the increase.

CPI-W

In September, the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) was 279.876. The CPI-W increased 0.3 percent over two months and 0.8 percent over the year.

The November 2019 Consumer Price Index for Boston-Cambridge-Newton is scheduled to be released on Wednesday, December 11, 2019, at 8:30 a.m. (ET).


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 category Indexes Percent change from
Historical
data
Jul.
2019
Aug.
2019
Sep.
2019
Sep.
2018
Jul.
2019
Aug.
2019

All items

280.943   281.603 1.1 0.2  

All items (1967 = 100)

816.568   818.486      

Food and beverages

266.557   265.357 -0.9 -0.5  

Food

268.511   266.716 -1.0 -0.7  

Food at home

250.490 251.406 246.839 -3.1 -1.5 -1.8

Cereal and bakery products

293.263   297.248 1.2 1.4  

Meats, poultry, fish, and eggs

254.328   254.149 1.7 -0.1  

Dairy and related products

288.100   280.547 -1.5 -2.6  

Fruits and vegetables

320.883   292.654 -17.7 -8.8  

Nonalcoholic beverages and beverage materials(1)

161.517   162.724 0.1 0.7  

Other food at home

199.574   201.911 1.4 1.2  

Food away from home

300.065   301.568 2.4 0.5  

Alcoholic beverages

248.561   254.180 -0.8 2.3  

Housing

293.495   294.677 2.7 0.4  

Shelter

351.127 350.608 352.054 3.1 0.3 0.4

Rent of primary residence(2)

360.165 361.660 363.530 3.0 0.9 0.5

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

370.777 372.487 373.432 3.5 0.7 0.3

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

370.777 372.487 373.432 3.5 0.7 0.3

Fuels and utilities

276.917   275.390 -1.2 -0.6  

Household energy

231.216 229.969 229.750 -1.9 -0.6 -0.1

Energy services(2)

238.298 238.023 237.064 -0.9 -0.5 -0.4

Electricity(2)

289.590 289.107 289.144 -0.9 -0.2 0.0

Utility (piped) gas service(2)

153.736 153.736 151.689 -1.0 -1.3 -1.3

Household furnishings and operations

127.251   130.939 2.2 2.9  

Apparel

128.545   144.971 -4.2 12.8  

Transportation

193.663   189.679 -3.9 -2.1  

Private transportation

194.449   190.479 -4.2 -2.0  

New and used motor vehicles(5)

103.497   101.698 -1.3 -1.7  

New Vehicles(1)

201.502   201.777 -1.0 0.1  

Used cars and trucks(1)

329.714   318.547 3.0 -3.4  

Motor fuel

236.165 233.929 226.427 -9.6 -4.1 -3.2

Gasoline (all types)

233.461 231.246 223.820 -9.7 -4.1 -3.2

Gasoline, unleaded regular(6)

226.587 224.490 216.739 -10.1 -4.3 -3.5

Gasoline, unleaded midgrade(6)(7)

247.460 244.603 240.597 -7.5 -2.8 -1.6

Gasoline, unleaded premium(6)

243.925 241.246 237.523 -6.5 -2.6 -1.5

Motor vehicle insurance(1)

           

Medical care

685.157   690.706 6.0 0.8  

Recreation(5)

124.290   121.200 -1.7 -2.5  

Education and communication(5)

166.789   169.723 1.7 1.8  

Tuition, other fees, and child care(1)

1,353.260   1,394.175 3.4 3.0  

Other goods and services

504.718   502.331 2.1 -0.5  

Commodity and service group

Commodities

191.373   191.569 -2.1 0.1  

Commodities less food and beverages

152.273   153.096 -3.1 0.5  

Nondurables less food and beverages

200.095   201.886 -4.6 0.9  

Durables

106.733   106.719 -0.5 0.0  

Services

361.682   362.744 2.5 0.3  

Special aggregate indexes

All items less shelter

255.185   255.735 -0.3 0.2  

All items less medical care

265.534   266.040 0.7 0.2  

Commodities less food

156.154   157.148 -2.9 0.6  

Nondurables

232.417   232.730 -2.6 0.1  

Nondurables less food

202.668   204.727 -4.3 1.0  

Services less rent of shelter(3)

389.934   391.224 1.7 0.3  

Services less medical care services

338.885   339.300 2.0 0.1  

Energy

231.691 230.023 226.643 -5.4 -2.2 -1.5

All items less energy

289.518   290.696 1.5 0.4  

All items less food and energy

294.000   295.690 1.9 0.6  

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, October 11, 2019