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16-785-BOS
Friday, April 15, 2016

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Consumer Price Index, Boston-Brockton-Nashua — March 2016

Area prices edged up 0.5 percent over two months; up 0.6 percent from a year ago

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) in the Boston-Brockton-Nashua area edged up 0.5 percent in March, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Regional Commissioner Deborah A. Brown noted that the two-month increase was mainly due to higher shelter prices paid by area consumers, up 1.2 percent.  Lower energy prices, down 1.3 percent over two months, partially offset this decrease. (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 0.6 percent. The increase was largely attributable to higher prices within all items less food and energy, up 2.1 percent, and to a lesser extent, higher food prices, up 2.0 percent. (See chart 1.)  Lower energy prices paid by area consumers, down 16.9 percent, significantly mitigated the increase. 

 

Food

Food prices edged down 0.3 percent since January due to lower grocery store or food at home prices, down 0.5 percent. Restaurant prices, or food away from home, edged up 0.1 percent partially offsetting this decrease. 

Food prices increased 2.0 percent from March 2015 to March 2016.  The increase was mainly attributable to higher restaurant prices, up 4.2 percent, and to a lesser extent, higher grocery store prices, up 0.7 percent over the year.  

Energy

The energy index was down 1.3 percent over the two months, mainly due to lower gasoline prices (-2.4 percent) and lower utility (piped) gas prices (-4.4 percent).  Area motorists paid $1.907 per gallon of gasoline in March.  Increases in prices paid by local households for electricity (1.1 percent) partially offset the decrease in the energy index.

Energy prices were down 16.9 percent from a year ago, largely attributable to lower gasoline prices, down 20.3 percent, and to a lesser extent, lower electricity costs, down 9.1 percent.  The decline in gasoline prices in March was the 20th consecutive over-the-year decline locally. Also contributing to the decline were lower utility (piped) gas prices paid by area consumers, down 8.2 percent from one year ago.

All items less food and energy

The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.8 percent from January.  The rise was mainly attributable to higher shelter costs, up 1.2 percent.  To a lesser extent, increases in clothing costs (3.2 percent), medical care, and new and used motor vehicles (0.8 and 0.9 percent, respectively) attributed to this overall advance.

Over the year, the index for all items less food and energy rose 2.1 percent, with higher shelter costs, rising 3.0 percent from March 2015, being the main cause of this increase. This marked the 57th consecutive annual increase in the local shelter index.  Within shelter, higher costs for owners’ rental equivalency of residences led the increase, up 3.2 percent.  Contributing to the overall increase, but to a lesser extent, were higher prices paid by area consumers for medical care, up 6.0 percent from one year ago, and education and communication, up 3.9 percent over the same period.  Lower clothing costs, down 8.5 percent, partially offset the annual increase locally. 

CPI-W

In March, the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) was 257.184. The CPI-W was up 0.4 percent over two months and increased 0.1 percent over the year.

The May 2016 Consumer Price Index for Boston-Brockton-Nashua is scheduled to be released on Thursday, June 16, 2016, 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 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 change 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 http://www.bls.gov/opub/hom/pdf/homch17.pdf

In calculating the index, price changes for the various items in each location are averaged together withweights 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-Brockton-Nashua, Mass.-N.H.-Maine-Conn. consolidated area covered in this release is comprised of Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth, Suffolk, Bristol, Hampden, and Worcester Counties in Massachusetts; Hillsborough, Merrimack, Rockingham, and Strafford Counties in New Hampshire; York County in Maine; and Windham County in Connecticut.

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

Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U): Indexes and percent changes for selected periods, Boston-Brockton-Nashua, Ma.-N.H.-Maine-Conn., (1982-84=100 unless otherwise noted) (not seasonally adjusted)
Expenditure category Indexes Percent change from
 
Historical
data
Jan.
2016
Feb.
2016
Mar.
2016
Mar.
2015
Jan.
2016
Feb.
2016

All items

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257.215   258.587 0.6 0.5  

All items (1967 = 100)

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747.603   751.592      
 

Food and beverages

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259.515   259.267 1.9 -0.1  

Food

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260.627   259.861 2.0 -0.3  

Food at home

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249.804 249.617 248.541 0.7 -0.5 -0.4

Food away from home

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278.801   278.988 4.2 0.1  

Alcoholic beverages

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251.194   257.191 1.6 2.4  
 

Housing

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258.682   260.950 0.8 0.9  

Shelter

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305.187 306.837 308.698 3.0 1.2 0.6

Rent of primary residence (1)

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316.450 317.566 318.623 3.0 0.7 0.3

Owners' equivalent rent of residences (1) (2) (3)

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328.630 329.019 329.827 3.2 0.4 0.2

Owners' equivalent rent of primary residence (1) (2) (3)

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328.630 329.019 329.827 3.2 0.4 0.2

Fuels and utilities

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248.794   247.654 -12.5 -0.5  

Household energy

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208.289 207.830 207.176 -14.6 -0.5 -0.3

Energy services (1)

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225.682 225.656 224.559 -9.0 -0.5 -0.5

Electricity (1)

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250.324 250.324 253.078 -9.1 1.1 1.1

Utility (piped) gas service (1)

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174.746 174.675 167.091 -8.2 -4.4 -4.3

Household furnishings and operations

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129.736   129.837 -0.7 0.1  
 

Apparel

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137.149   141.606 -8.5 3.2  
 

Transportation

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179.977   179.643 -4.1 -0.2  

Private transportation

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177.913   177.985 -4.3 0.0  

Motor fuel

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168.793 154.517 164.693 -20.3 -2.4 6.6

Gasoline (all types)

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166.731 152.599 162.807 -20.3 -2.4 6.7

Gasoline, unleaded regular (4)

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160.814 146.568 156.918 -21.6 -2.4 7.1

Gasoline, unleaded midgrade (4) (5)

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182.620 170.600 177.968 -16.6 -2.5 4.3

Gasoline, unleaded premium (4)

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182.076 171.710 178.883 -14.0 -1.8 4.2
 

Medical care

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627.587   632.357 6.0 0.8  
 

Recreation (6)

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116.956   117.577 1.3 0.5  
 

Education and communication (6)

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156.340   156.459 3.9 0.1  
 

Other goods and services

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446.291   448.359 1.0 0.5  
 

Commodity and service group

 

Commodities

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185.719   186.111 -2.7 0.2  

Commodities less food and beverages

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147.611   148.240 -6.1 0.4  

Nondurables less food and beverages

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183.504   184.331 -9.5 0.5  

Durables

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111.387   111.828 -1.2 0.4  

Services

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321.820   324.091 2.5 0.7  
 

Special aggregate indexes

 

All items less shelter

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240.993   241.542 -0.6 0.2  

All items less medical care

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243.025   244.270 0.2 0.5  

Commodities less food

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151.684   152.478 -5.7 0.5  

Nondurables

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220.185   220.506 -3.2 0.1  

Nondurables less food

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187.359   188.514 -8.5 0.6  

Services less rent of shelter (2)

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357.947   358.819 2.0 0.2  

Services less medical care services

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300.912   302.978 2.1 0.7  

Energy

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189.622 183.161 187.218 -16.9 -1.3 2.2

All items less energy

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267.377   269.140 2.0 0.7  

All items less food and energy

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269.355   271.556 2.1 0.8  

Footnotes
(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) 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.
(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, April 15, 2016