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19-654-BOS
Thursday, April 11, 2019

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

Area prices up 0.5 percent over two months; up 2.1 percent from a year ago

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) in the Boston-Cambridge-Newton area increased 0.5 percent in March, 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 0.4 percent and to a lesser extent higher food prices, up 1.1 percent. Higher energy prices, up 0.9 percent also contributed to 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 2.1 percent. The increase was largely attributable to higher prices within all items less food and energy up 2.5 percent.(See chart 1.)

Food

Food prices increased 1.1 percent since January, mainly due to higher food at home prices, up 1.8 percent. Higher food at home prices were mainly driven by higher prices for fruits and vegetables, up 6.6 percent.

Food prices increased 2.6 percent over the year, mainly due to both higher food at home prices, up 2.6 percent, and food away from home prices, up 2.7 percent.

Energy

The energy index increased 0.9 percent over the two months, mainly driven by higher gasoline prices, up 1.9 percent.

Energy prices were down 2.5 percent from a year ago, largely attributable to lower prices in utility piped gas, down 12.4 percent. Lower local gasoline prices, down 2.5 percent, also contributed to the decline.

All items less food and energy

The index for all items less food and energy increased from January (0.4 percent) mainly due to higher apparel costs, up 9.5 percent. Higher local costs for owners’ equivalent rent of residences (0.2) percent, also contributed to the increase.

Over the year, the index for all items less food and energy rose 2.5 percent, with higher shelter costs being the main driver of the increase, up 3.7 percent. Within shelter, higher costs for owners’ equivalent rent of residences, up 4.2 percent and to a lesser extent, higher rent of primary residence, up 3.7 percent led the increase. Higher apparel and recreation costs, up 5.7 percent and 2.5 percent respectively, also contributed to the increase.

CPI-W

In March, the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) was 279.451. The CPI-W increased 0.5 percent over two months and increased 2.1 percent over the year.

 

The May 2019 Consumer Price Index for Boston-Cambridge-Newton is scheduled to be released on Wednesday, June 12, 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
Jan.
2019
Feb.
2019
Mar.
2019
Mar.
2018
Jan.
2019
Feb.
2019

All items

278.976   280.393 2.1 0.5  

All items (1967 = 100)

810.852   814.971      

Food and beverages

267.429   269.784 2.2 0.9  

Food

269.169   272.174 2.6 1.1  

Food at home

252.353 253.592 256.923 2.6 1.8 1.3

Cereal and bakery products

301.429   305.512 2.6 1.4  

Meats, poultry, fish, and eggs

252.469   253.007 -0.2 0.2  

Dairy and related products

286.537   282.610 4.2 -1.4  

Fruits and vegetables

324.455   345.801 3.2 6.6  

Nonalcoholic beverages and beverage materials(1)

165.354   167.615 3.0 1.4  

Other food at home

199.768   201.937 3.4 1.1  

Food away from home

298.580   298.802 2.7 0.1  

Alcoholic beverages

251.903   246.830 -2.4 -2.0  

Housing

291.405   291.327 2.6 0.0  

Shelter

343.856 342.088 343.857 3.7 0.0 0.5

Rent of primary residence(2)

358.078 356.377 357.517 3.7 -0.2 0.3

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

365.737 365.377 366.543 4.2 0.2 0.3

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

365.737 365.377 366.543 4.2 0.2 0.3

Fuels and utilities

309.637   310.649 -1.8 0.3  

Household energy

263.003 261.872 263.764 -2.5 0.3 0.7

Energy services(2)

278.714 276.552 277.637 -3.1 -0.4 0.4

Electricity(2)

314.163 313.952 315.864 2.8 0.5 0.6

Utility (piped) gas service(2)

208.960 204.696 204.689 -12.4 -2.0 0.0

Household furnishings and operations

126.587   125.649 -2.5 -0.7  

Apparel

135.026   147.799 5.7 9.5  

Transportation

192.302   193.368 0.5 0.6  

Private transportation

193.538   194.633 0.4 0.6  

New and used motor vehicles(5)

106.942   106.782 1.7 -0.1  

New Vehicles(1)

216.023   213.695 0.4 -1.1  

Used cars and trucks(1)

317.799   320.169 0.2 0.7  

Motor fuel

214.604 209.853 218.685 -2.5 1.9 4.2

Gasoline (all types)

212.094 207.394 216.142 -2.5 1.9 4.2

Gasoline, unleaded regular(6)

205.441 200.617 209.413 -2.7 1.9 4.4

Gasoline, unleaded midgrade(6)(7)

227.478 223.713 229.853 -2.1 1.0 2.7

Gasoline, unleaded premium(6)

224.673 221.871 228.895 -1.1 1.9 3.2

Motor vehicle insurance(1)

           

Medical care

655.374   659.055 1.5 0.6  

Recreation(5)

124.490   124.667 2.5 0.1  

Education and communication(5)

164.719   165.389 0.1 0.4  

Tuition, other fees, and child care(1)

1,348.743   1,348.743 2.4 0.0  

Other goods and services

498.150   500.318 3.4 0.4  

Commodity and service group

Commodities

190.988   193.728 0.4 1.4  

Commodities less food and beverages

151.331   154.171 -1.0 1.9  

Nondurables less food and beverages

196.487   203.181 0.7 3.4  

Durables

108.044   107.571 -3.5 -0.4  

Services

358.347   358.681 2.9 0.1  

Special aggregate indexes

All items less shelter

255.724   257.866 1.1 0.8  

All items less medical care

264.422   265.754 2.2 0.5  

Commodities less food

155.359   157.932 -1.1 1.7  

Nondurables

231.024   235.565 1.5 2.0  

Nondurables less food

199.578   205.393 0.4 2.9  

Services less rent of shelter(3)

392.542   393.382 1.9 0.2  

Services less medical care services

337.062   337.226 3.0 0.0  

Energy

240.079 237.384 242.276 -2.5 0.9 2.1

All items less energy

286.599   287.967 2.5 0.5  

All items less food and energy

290.462   291.556 2.5 0.4  

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: Thursday, April 11, 2019