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News Release Information

Wednesday, April 14, 2021


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

Area prices up 0.9 percent over two months; up 1.3 percent from a year ago

Prices in the Boston area, as measured by the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U), advanced 0.9 percent for the two months ending in March 2021, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. (See table) Regional Commissioner William J. Sibley noted that the March increase was influenced by higher prices for energy. (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 1.3 percent. (See chart 1 and table) Energy prices rose 8.2 percent, largely the result of an increase in the price of gasoline. Food prices advanced 3.7 percent.


Food prices rose 0.7 percent for the two months ending in March. (See table) Prices for food away from home advanced 2.6 percent, and prices for food at home declined 0.6 percent for the same period.

Over the year, food prices advanced 3.7 percent. Prices for food away from home rose 8.7 percent, and prices for food at home advanced 0.4 percent since a year ago.


The energy index rose 8.6 percent for the two months ending in March. The increase was mainly due to higher prices for gasoline (19.0 percent). Prices for electricity increased 1.7 percent, while prices for natural gas service declined 1.1 percent for the same period.

Energy prices rose 8.2 percent over the year, largely due to higher prices for gasoline (12.3 percent). Prices paid for natural gas service advanced 7.3 percent, and prices for electricity increased 0.9 percent during the past year.

All items less food and energy

The index for all items less food and energy advanced 0.4 percent in the latest two-month period. Higher prices for shelter (0.4 percent) and apparel (3.3 percent) were partially offset by lower prices for recreation (-0.9 percent).

Over the year, the index for all items less food and energy rose 0.4 percent. Components contributing to the increase included shelter (1.2 percent) and education and communication (2.2 percent). Partly offsetting the increases were price decreases in recreation (-6.4 percent), apparel (-6.6 percent), and medical care (-2.2 percent).


In March, the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) was 288.652. The CPI-W increased 1.1 percent over two months and increased 1.5 percent over the year.

The May 2021 Consumer Price Index for Boston-Cambridge-Newton area is scheduled to be released on Thursday, June 10, 2021, at 8:30 a.m. (ET).

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Impact on March 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 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 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

286.615   289.240 1.3 0.9  

All items (1967 = 100)

833.053   840.685      

Food and beverages

284.760   286.713 3.9 0.7  


286.856   288.899 3.7 0.7  

Food at home

264.876 261.598 263.208 0.4 -0.6 0.6

Cereal and bakery products

311.669   303.975 -1.1 -2.5  

Meats, poultry, fish, and eggs

278.807   282.857 7.3 1.5  

Dairy and related products

289.638   288.382 0.1 -0.4  

Fruits and vegetables

343.526   343.859 -0.1 0.1  

Nonalcoholic beverages and beverage materials(1)

168.520   170.693 1.8 1.3  

Other food at home

207.911   201.881 -4.2 -2.9  

Food away from home

325.397   334.016 8.7 2.6  

Alcoholic beverages

265.855   266.886 5.6 0.4  


302.871   304.561 1.7 0.6  


358.841 359.294 360.418 1.2 0.4 0.3

Rent of primary residence(2)

375.135 375.653 375.726 2.2 0.2 0.0

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

386.511 386.560 388.654 2.1 0.6 0.5

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

386.511 386.560 388.654 2.1 0.6 0.5

Fuels and utilities

307.458   314.526 6.1 2.3  

Household energy

256.742 259.270 263.506 5.7 2.6 1.6

Energy services(2)

279.653 278.748 281.648 3.0 0.7 1.0


309.750 309.789 315.096 0.9 1.7 1.7

Utility (piped) gas service(2)

216.836 214.793 214.344 7.3 -1.1 -0.2

Household furnishings and operations

133.145   133.185 2.0 0.0  


123.223   127.278 -6.6 3.3  


187.703   194.353 4.0 3.5  

Private transportation

191.533   201.763 5.9 5.3  

New and used motor vehicles(5)

108.870   112.018   2.9  

New Vehicles(1)

216.146   213.293   -1.3  

Used cars and trucks(1)

343.012   353.745 10.3 3.1  

Motor fuel

200.359 211.577 238.316 12.2 18.9 12.6

Gasoline (all types)

198.108 209.172 235.775 12.3 19.0 12.7

Gasoline, unleaded regular(6)

190.579 202.054 228.954 12.9 20.1 13.3

Gasoline, unleaded midgrade(6)(7)

223.056 227.542 247.415 7.1 10.9 8.7

Gasoline, unleaded premium(6)

218.388 225.371 246.394 9.0 12.8 9.3

Motor vehicle insurance(1)


Medical care

693.754   697.383 -2.2 0.5  


116.060   115.031 -6.4 -0.9  

Education and communication(5)

172.818   174.023 2.2 0.7  

Tuition, other fees, and child care(1)

1,420.582   1,422.544 1.7 0.1  

Other goods and services

519.220   522.085 1.7 0.6  

Commodity and service group


194.408   198.613 3.2 2.2  

Commodities less food and beverages

148.847   153.780 2.6 3.3  

Nondurables less food and beverages

184.222   194.499 1.0 5.6  


112.738   113.445 4.7 0.6  


369.668   370.922 0.4 0.3  

Special aggregate indexes

All items less shelter

260.189   263.333 1.4 1.2  

All items less medical care

271.129   273.706 1.6 1.0  

Commodities less food

153.434   158.251 2.8 3.1  


233.037   239.316 2.6 2.7  

Nondurables less food

189.321   198.855 1.4 5.0  

Services less rent of shelter(3)

399.069   399.915 -0.5 0.2  

Services less medical care services

346.078   347.119 0.7 0.3  


230.658 236.843 250.570 8.2 8.6 5.8

All items less energy

295.739   297.059 0.9 0.4  

All items less food and energy

298.262   299.469 0.4 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, April 14, 2021