CPI Methodology


BLS Handbook of Methods, Chapter 17, Consumer Price Indexes

OPLC Program Comparisons

Comparison of BLS Price and Spending Measures

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How is the CPI calculated?
  2. How is the CPI market basket determined?
  3. How do I read or interpret an index?
  4. How are CPI prices collected and reviewed?

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How BLS Measures Price Changes in the CPI for...

How BLS Measures Price Change in the Consumer Price Index for:


Articles and Research Papers

Reports

  • CPI research series using current methods
  • Reconciliation Between the CPI and PCE Price Index. The Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) undertook a joint project to detail and quantify the differences between the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) and the Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) Chain-type Price Index. A paper summarizing these differences can be found on the BEA website at http://www.bea.gov/papers/pdf/cpi_pce.pdf. The latest reconciliation tables can be found at http://www.bea.gov/national/nipaweb/nipa_underlying/pce-cpi.asp.
  • Treatment of Owner-Occupied Housing in the CPI — Paper presented to the Federal Economic Statistics Advisory Committee (FESAC) on December 9, 2005 (PDF)
  • Updating the Housing Age-Bias Regression model in the Consumer Price Index (PDF)
  • Guidelines for Quality Adjustment of New Vehicle Prices (PDF)
  • Experimental Consumer Price Index for Americans 62 years of Age and Older, 1982–2007 (Monthly Labor Review April 2008) (PDF)
  • NEW Experimental Consumer Price Index for Americans 62 years of Age and Older, 1982–2009 (PDF)
  • Response Rates for the Consumer Price Indexes, 2010 (PDF)
  • Variance Estimates for Changes in the Consumer Price Index, January 2010–December 2010 (PDF)
  • Consumer Price Index Users Survey (PDF)
  • Hedonic Quality Adjustment in the U.S. CPI (HTML)
  • Seasonal Adjustment in the U.S. CPI (HTML)
  • Notes on a Chained Consumer Price Index (HTML)
  • Pharmaceutical Pricing in the PPI, CPI, and IPP (PDF)

BLS Statistical Survey Papers

  • (2010) Defining an Outlet: What Characteristics are Truly Price Determining? (PDF)
  • (2010) Sampling and Weighting of Commodity and Service Units for the Elementary Level of Computation of the U.S. Consumer Price Index (PDF)
  • (2010) Improving the Preliminary Values of the Chained CPI-U (PDF)
  • (2007) Reduction of Sample Areas in the Consumer Price Index and Consumer Expenditure Survey Designs (PDF)
  • (2007) Empirical Evaluation of X-11 and Model-based Seasonal Adjustment Methods (PDF)
  • (2006) Evaluation of X-11 and Model-based Seasonal Adjustment Methods for Economic Time Series (PDF)
  • (2006) A Spatial Analysis of Price Change in the Housing Component of the Consumer Price Index (PDF)
  • (2006) Comparison between Chained CPI-U and Regular CPI-U All-US Indexes in the Housing Sector (2000–2004) (PDF)
  • (2006) Evaluating a Calibration Weighting Scheme for Elementary Indexes for Commodities and Services in the U.S. Consumer Price Index (PDF)
  • (2006) Estimating Dynamic Price Indexes (PDF)
  • (2005) The Effect of Attrition on Variance and Index Estimates in the Housing Component of the Consumer Price Index (PDF)
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  • (2005) Comparison between Chained CPI-U and Regular CPI-U: All-U.S. Indexes at Lower Item-aggregate Levels (2000–2003) (PDF)
  • (2002) A Note on the Effects of Extreme Price Values on Price Indexes (PDF)
  • (1993) Some Issues in Seasonal Adjustment When Modeling Interventions (PDF)

Monthly Labor Review Articles on CPI Methodology

 

CPI Working Papers

  • (2010) Do the Poor Pay More Store-By-Store? (HTML)
  • (2010) Note on Standard Errors and Other Relevant Statistics of Experimental Poverty Thresholds Produced at the Bureau of Labor Statistics: 2006 to 2008 (PDF)
  • (2009) Reconsideration of Weighting and Updating Procedures in the US CPI (HTML)
  • (2009) The Puzzling Divergence of Rents and User Costs, 1980–2004 (HTML)
  • (2008) New Evidence on Outlet Substitution Effects in Consumer Price Index (HTML)
  • (2008) Creating a Consistent Poverty Measure over Time Using NAS Procedures: 1996-2005 (HTML)
  • (2007) Household Spending Patterns: A Comparison of Four Census Regions (HTML)
  • (2007) Improving the CPI's Age-Bias Adjustment: Leverage, Disaggregation and Model Averaging (HTML)
  • (2007) Explaining the Rent-OER Inflation Divergence, 1999–2006 (HTML)
  • (2006) The Effects of Rounding on the Consumer Price Index (HTML)
  • (2003) Alternative Consumer Price Index Aggregations: Plutocratic and Democratic Approaches (HTML)
  • (2002) An Examination of the Difference Between the CPI and the PCE Deflator (HTML)
  • (2002) Constructing Household Specific Consumer Price Indexes: An Analysis of Different Techniques and Methods (HTML)
  • (2001) Random Errors and Superlative Indexes (HTML)
  • (2001) Using Hedonic Methods for Quality Adjustment in the CPI: The Consumer Audio Products Component (HTML)
  • (2001) The Used Car Price Index: A Checkup and Suggested Repairs (HTML)
  • (2001) Quality Adjusted Price Indexes for Four Year Colleges (HTML)
  • (1999) Small Sample Bias in Geometric Mean and Seasoned CPI Component Indexes (HTML)
  • (1996) Bias in the Consumer Price Index: What Is the Evidence (HTML)
  • (1996) Price Dispersion and Cost-of-Living Indexes (HTML)
  • (1995) Improvement to the Food at Home, Shelter, and Prescription Drug Indexes in the U.S. Consumer Price Index (HTML)

Citations for papers not available online (HTML)

Special Notices

"Publishing Consumer Price Indexes to Three Decimal Places: Questions and Answers".

Seasonal adjustment in the CPI, our page on seasonal adjustment.


Further Information

For further assistance contact the CPI Section of Index Analysis and Public Information at cpi_info@bls.gov or (202) 691-7000.

 

Last Modified Date: July 13, 2015