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News Release Information

Thursday, February 11, 2021


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

Area prices up 0.7 percent over two months; up 0.5 percent from a year ago

Prices in the Boston area, as measured by the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U), advanced 0.7 percent for the two months ending in January 2021, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Regional Commissioner William J. Sibley noted that the January increase was influenced by higher prices for energy. (Data in this report are not seasonally adjusted. Accordingly, bimonthly changes may reflect the impact of seasonal influences.)

Over the last 12 months, the CPI-U rose 0.5 percent. (See chart 1 and table.) Food prices increased 4.8 percent. The index for all items less food and energy inched up 0.2 percent over the year. Energy prices declined 4.5 percent, largely the result of a decrease in the price of gasoline. (See chart 1 and table.)


Food prices advanced 1.2 percent for the two months ending in January. (See table.) Prices for food at home increased 0.5 percent, and prices for food away from home rose 2.2 percent for the same period.

Over the year, food prices increased 4.8 percent. Prices for food at home increased 3.8 percent since a year ago, and prices for food away from home increased 6.1 percent.


The energy index rose 7.0 percent for the two months ending in January. The increase was mainly due to higher prices for gasoline (9.7 percent). Prices for electricity increased 5.6 percent, and prices for natural gas service rose 1.8 percent for the same period.

Energy prices declined 4.5 percent over the year, largely due to lower prices for gasoline (-10.2 percent). Prices paid for natural gas service rose 8.5 percent, while prices for electricity declined 0.9 percent during the past year.

All items less food and energy

The index for all items less food and energy crept up 0.2 percent in the latest two-month period. Higher prices for household furnishings and operations (2.3 percent) and apparel (3.2 percent) were partially offset by lower prices for education and communication (-0.2 percent) and other goods and services (-0.1 percent).

Over the year, the index for all items less food and energy inched up 0.2 percent. Components contributing to the increase included shelter (1.1 percent) and education and communication (1.2 percent). Partly offsetting the increases were price decreases in recreation (-5.6 percent) and apparel (-4.7 percent).


In January, the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) was 285.461. The CPI-W increased (0.8 percent) over two months and increased 0.4 percent over the year.

The March 2021 Consumer Price Index for Boston-Cambridge-Newton area is scheduled to be released on Tuesday, April 13, 2021, at 8:30 a.m. (ET).

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Impact on January 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 January 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

284.622   286.615 0.5 0.7  

All items (1967 = 100)

827.261   833.053      

Food and beverages

281.719   284.760 4.7 1.1  


283.592   286.856 4.8 1.2  

Food at home

263.667 265.295 264.876 3.8 0.5 -0.2

Cereal and bakery products

313.740   311.669 4.5 -0.7  

Meats, poultry, fish, and eggs

281.169   278.807 7.5 -0.8  

Dairy and related products

300.566   289.638 1.9 -3.6  

Fruits and vegetables

339.294   343.526 5.5 1.2  

Nonalcoholic beverages and beverage materials(1)

170.712   168.520 1.3 -1.3  

Other food at home

199.395   207.911 1.3 4.3  

Food away from home

318.495   325.397 6.1 2.2  

Alcoholic beverages

265.117   265.855 3.8 0.3  


300.804   302.871 1.1 0.7  


358.708 359.374 358.841 1.1 0.0 -0.1

Rent of primary residence(2)

375.595 375.097 375.135 1.9 -0.1 0.0

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

385.294 385.673 386.511 1.9 0.3 0.2

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

385.294 385.673 386.511 1.9 0.3 0.2

Fuels and utilities

293.352   307.458 0.6 4.8  

Household energy

243.263 247.368 256.742 -0.8 5.5 3.8

Energy services(2)

268.291 269.954 279.653 2.2 4.2 3.6


293.256 293.256 309.750 -0.9 5.6 5.6

Utility (piped) gas service(2)

213.062 216.722 216.836 8.5 1.8 0.1

Household furnishings and operations

130.111   133.145 2.0 2.3  


119.418   123.223 -4.7 3.2  


185.881   187.703 -2.4 1.0  

Private transportation

187.393   191.533 -0.9 2.2  

New and used motor vehicles(5)

108.971   108.870 3.3 -0.1  

New Vehicles(1)

217.381   216.146 -1.8 -0.6  

Used cars and trucks(1)

346.876   343.012 10.2 -1.1  

Motor fuel

182.899 186.027 200.359 -10.3 9.5 7.7

Gasoline (all types)

180.648 183.781 198.108 -10.2 9.7 7.8

Gasoline, unleaded regular(6)

172.966 176.168 190.579 -10.8 10.2 8.2

Gasoline, unleaded midgrade(6)(7)

206.408 209.925 223.056 -5.9 8.1 6.3

Gasoline, unleaded premium(6)

205.244 207.163 218.388 -7.3 6.4 5.4

Motor vehicle insurance(1)


Medical care

692.641   693.754 -1.4 0.2  


114.852   116.060 -5.6 1.1  

Education and communication(5)

173.249   172.818 1.2 -0.2  

Tuition, other fees, and child care(1)

1,425.876   1,420.582 1.6 -0.4  

Other goods and services

519.783   519.220 1.4 -0.1  

Commodity and service group


190.730   194.408 1.0 1.9  

Commodities less food and beverages

145.076   148.847 -1.7 2.6  

Nondurables less food and beverages

178.035   184.222 -5.8 3.5  


110.985   112.738 3.7 1.6  


369.142   369.668 0.3 0.1  

Special aggregate indexes

All items less shelter

257.330   260.189 0.2 1.1  

All items less medical care

269.116   271.129 0.7 0.7  

Commodities less food

149.753   153.434 -1.4 2.5  


228.357   233.037 0.1 2.0  

Nondurables less food

183.573   189.321 -4.9 3.1  

Services less rent of shelter(3)

397.989   399.069 -0.7 0.3  

Services less medical care services

345.602   346.078 0.4 0.1  


215.610 219.266 230.658 -4.5 7.0 5.2

All items less energy

294.732   295.739 0.8 0.3  

All items less food and energy

297.618   298.262 0.2 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: Thursday, February 11, 2021