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News Release Information

15-994-DAL
Friday, May 22, 2015

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Consumer Price Index, Houston-Galveston-Brazoria – April 2015

Area prices up 1.0 percent in March and April, but down 0.4 percent over the year

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) in the Houston area rose 1.0 percent in March and April, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Regional Commissioner Stanley W. Suchman noted that this increase followed two consecutive bimonthly declines. The current advance was broad based, led by increases in the indexes for all items less food and energy (0.9 percent) and motor fuel (10.7 percent), though higher food prices (0.3 percent) also contributed. (Data in this report are not seasonally adjusted. Accordingly, short-term changes may reflect the impact of seasonal influences.)

Over the last 12 months, the all items CPI-U fell 0.4 percent, the second consecutive annual decline for the overall index. In contrast, the index for all items less food and energy rose 2.9 percent over the year. (See chart 1.)

Food

Local food prices rose 0.3 percent in March and April, following a 0.5-percent increase in January and February. Among the two components of the index, prices for food away from home increased 0.4 percent, while prices for food at home (grocery stores) edged up 0.2 percent.

From April 2014 to April 2015, the food index advanced 3.0 percent, reflecting the combined effects of a 2.6-percent price rise at grocery stores and a 3.5-percent price rise for food away from home.

Energy

The energy index advanced 4.1 percent in March and April, after falling 15.3 percent in January and February. The biggest factor in the current two-month increase was a 10.7-percent rise in the motor fuel index, though natural gas prices also contributed, up 1.7 percent. Partially offsetting these increases, electricity prices declined 5.0 percent during the period.

During the year ended in April 2015, the energy index registered a 29.3-percent decline. A 34.3-percent drop in motor fuel costs was the biggest factor in the decrease, but lower household energy prices also contributed. Electricity prices fell 22.3 percent during the last 12 months and natural gas costs were down 13.6 percent.

All items less food and energy

The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.9 percent in March and April, after increasing 0.4 percent in January and February. The leading factor in the current advance was a 1.3-percent increase in the shelter index as prices rose for all three shelter sub-components: renters’ costs, owners’ equivalent rent, and lodging away from home (hotel and motel charges). Other contributors included higher prices for new and used motor vehicles, medical care, household furnishings and operations, and recreation.

From April 2014 to April 2015, the index for all items less food and energy rose 2.9 percent. The biggest factor in the annual advance was a 5.1-percent rise in shelter costs. Within the shelter component, higher rates of increase for renters’ costs (6.1 percent) and owners’ equivalent rent (5.2 percent) were slowed by a decline in the cost of lodging away from home. Another large contributor to the annual increase was a 3.8-percent rise in medical care prices. Countering a portion of these advances, recreation prices fell 2.4 percent over the year.

The June 2015 Consumer Price Index for All Items for Houston-Galveston-Brazoria will be released on July 17, 2015.


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 89 percent of the total population and (2) a CPI for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) which covers 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 87 urban areas across the country from about 6,000 housing units and approximately 24,000 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/homch17_a.htm.

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 Houston-Galveston-Brazoria, Texas, Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Area (CMSA) includes Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Montgomery, and Waller Counties.

Information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: 202-691-5200; Federal Relay Service: 1-800-877-8339.

Table 1. Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U): Indexes and percent changes for selected periods,
Houston-Galveston-Brazoria, TX (1982-84=100 unless otherwise noted)
Item and GroupIndexesPercent change from -
 
Feb.
2015
Mar.
2015
Apr.
2015
Apr.
2014
Feb.
2015
Mar.
2015

All items

210.283 212.439-0.41.0 

All items (1967 = 100)

674.452 681.368   

Food and beverages

222.920 223.7722.90.4 

Food

222.838 223.4753.00.3 

Food at home

223.468224.018223.9362.60.20.0

Food away from home

217.763 218.5873.50.4 

Alcoholic beverages

213.993 218.0651.41.9 

Housing

198.278 199.7941.90.8 

Shelter

235.565236.892238.5435.11.30.7

Rent of primary residence (1)

227.375227.784229.0206.10.70.5

Owners' equivalent rent of residences (1) (2)

218.562220.427221.4385.21.30.5

Owners' equivalent rent of primary residence (1) (2)

218.562220.427221.4385.21.30.5

Fuels and utilities

160.288 155.869-15.1-2.8 

Household energy

141.961140.665136.558-20.8-3.8-2.9

Energy services (1) (3)

139.423138.144134.034-20.8-3.9-3.0

Electricity (1)

138.415136.882131.457-22.3-5.0-4.0

Utility (piped) gas service (1)

132.832132.832135.129-13.61.71.7

Household furnishings and operations

119.958 121.0660.70.9 

Apparel

178.320 179.0901.00.4 

Transportation

171.510 176.660-9.43.0 

Private transportation

169.571 174.739-9.73.0 

Motor fuel

182.264199.106201.703-34.310.71.3

Gasoline (all types)

180.591198.468201.488-34.711.61.5

Gasoline, unleaded regular (4)

183.770202.501205.416-35.511.81.4

Gasoline, unleaded midgrade (4) (5)

191.198208.533212.612-32.111.22.0

Gasoline, unleaded premium (4)

191.828207.726211.528-29.710.31.8

Medical care

444.381 449.7183.81.2 

Recreation (6)

101.990 102.804-2.40.8 

Education and communication (6)

124.540 124.2312.5-0.2 

Other goods and services

388.287 386.8842.8-0.4 
 

COMMODITY AND SERVICE GROUP

 

Commodities

171.866 174.421-4.01.5 

Commodities less food and beverages

146.680 149.847-7.72.2 

Nondurables less food and beverages

189.404 196.024-13.03.5 

Durables

105.425 106.027-0.30.6 

Services

250.246 252.0122.30.7 
 

SPECIAL AGGREGATE INDEXES

 

All items less shelter

200.723 202.576-2.60.9 

All items less medical care

198.812 200.826-0.71.0 

Commodities less food

149.051 152.255-7.42.1 

Nondurables

206.507 210.328-5.41.9 

Nondurables less food

190.661 197.135-12.23.4 

Services less rent of shelter (2)

264.677 265.005-0.30.1 

Services less medical care services

230.985 232.5762.10.7 

Energy

160.300167.723166.865-29.34.1-0.5

All items less energy

218.015 219.7362.90.8 

All items less food and energy

217.010 218.9262.90.9 

(1) This index series was calculated using a Laspeyres estimator. All other item stratum index series were calculated using a geometric means estimator.
(2) Indexes on a December 1982=100 base.
(3) Prior to January 2011 this series was titled Gas (piped) and electricity.
(4) Special index based on a substantially smaller sample.
(5) Indexes on a December 1993=100 base.
(6) Indexes on a December 1997=100 base.

Note: Index applies to a month as a whole, not to any specific date.

 

Last Modified Date: Friday, May 22, 2015