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News Release Information

Wednesday, August 12, 2020


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Consumer Price Index, Boston-Cambridge-Newton — July 2020

Area prices up 0.2 percent over two months; up 0.8 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 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).

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Impact on July 2020 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 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 and the BLS Handbook of Methods, Chapter 17, The Consumer Price Index, 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

282.620   283.175 0.8 0.2  

All items (1967 = 100)

821.444   823.056      

Food and beverages

285.163   285.837 7.2 0.2  


288.185   288.878 7.6 0.2  

Food at home

272.228 273.850 273.460 9.2 0.5 -0.1

Cereal and bakery products

333.451   324.743 10.7 -2.6  

Meats, poultry, fish, and eggs

285.291   297.522 17.0 4.3  

Dairy and related products

297.394   293.892 2.0 -1.2  

Fruits and vegetables

351.824   351.155 9.4 -0.2  

Nonalcoholic beverages and beverage materials(1)

163.308   170.999 5.9 4.7  

Other food at home

215.908   212.319 6.4 -1.7  

Food away from home

316.048   315.781 5.2 -0.1  

Alcoholic beverages

256.562   257.049 3.4 0.2  


296.933   297.149 1.2 0.1  


357.399 359.727 358.626 2.1 0.3 -0.3

Rent of primary residence(2)

370.109 370.773 370.972 3.0 0.2 0.1

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

383.912 384.552 384.724 3.8 0.2 0.0

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

383.912 384.552 384.724 3.8 0.2 0.0

Fuels and utilities

266.234   262.049 -5.4 -1.6  

Household energy

220.376 220.966 215.296 -6.9 -2.3 -2.6

Energy services(2)

241.641 241.514 232.863 -2.3 -3.6 -3.6


296.280 296.062 286.886 -0.9 -3.2 -3.1

Utility (piped) gas service(2)

150.485 150.488 143.256 -6.8 -4.8 -4.8

Household furnishings and operations

127.544   126.530 -0.6 -0.8  


122.471   123.640 -3.8 1.0  


176.138   181.952 -6.0 3.3  

Private transportation

178.374   184.405 -5.2 3.4  

New and used motor vehicles(5)

105.346   105.263 1.7 -0.1  

New Vehicles(1)

223.675   214.609 6.5 -4.1  

Used cars and trucks(1)

314.917   322.507 -2.2 2.4  

Motor fuel

174.087 179.544 183.054 -22.5 5.2 2.0

Gasoline (all types)

171.848 177.289 180.786 -22.6 5.2 2.0

Gasoline, unleaded regular(6)

163.949 169.572 173.189 -23.6 5.6 2.1

Gasoline, unleaded midgrade(6)(7)

200.774 203.195 205.885 -16.8 2.5 1.3

Gasoline, unleaded premium(6)

199.439 202.786 204.765 -16.1 2.7 1.0

Motor vehicle insurance(1)


Medical care

698.016   695.700 1.5 -0.3  


123.085   116.746 -6.1 -5.2  

Education and communication(5)

170.904   171.624 2.9 0.4  

Tuition, other fees, and child care(1)

1,398.308   1,400.341 3.5 0.1  

Other goods and services

514.159   516.473 2.3 0.5  

Commodity and service group


190.443   190.932 -0.2 0.3  

Commodities less food and beverages

143.283   143.674 -5.6 0.3  

Nondurables less food and beverages

177.443   180.178 -10.0 1.5  


108.445   107.108 0.4 -1.2  


365.620   366.236 1.3 0.2  

Special aggregate indexes

All items less shelter

254.981   255.248 0.0 0.1  

All items less medical care

266.873   267.523 0.7 0.2  

Commodities less food

147.721   148.117 -5.1 0.3  


229.711   231.457 -0.4 0.8  

Nondurables less food

182.391   184.944 -8.7 1.4  

Services less rent of shelter(3)

391.275   391.109 0.3 0.0  

Services less medical care services

341.751   342.500 1.1 0.2  


198.879 201.525 199.790 -13.8 0.5 -0.9

All items less energy

293.848   294.384 1.7 0.2  

All items less food and energy

295.841   296.354 0.8 0.2  

(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: Wednesday, August 12, 2020