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Washington-Baltimore Area Consumer Price Index – November 2009 (PDF)
Largest Decrease in the Housing Index in Over Four Years
Retail prices in the Washington-Baltimore area, as measured by the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U), edged down 0.2 percent from September to November following four consecutive bimonthly increases, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Sheila Watkins, the Bureau’s regional commissioner, noted that lower prices for housing and apparel were responsible for the recent decline, while higher prices for the remaining six categories moderated the overall decrease. (See chart 1.) The November level of 140.718 (November 1996 = 100) was 1.6 percent higher than in November 2008. Over the same period, the core inflation rate, as measured by the all items less food and energy index, rose 1.5 percent. (See table 1.)
Chart 1. 2-month and 12-month percent changes ended November 2009 for the major categories of the CPI-U for the Washington-Baltimore area, not seasonally adjusted
The housing index fell 1.2 percent over the last two months—the largest two-month decrease since September 2005—due largely to lower prices for fuels and utilities, particularly electricity. Fuels and utilities prices decreased 5.6 percent from September to November. Electricity prices, which normally rise in June as summer rate schedules are introduced, then decline in October, fell 9.4 percent since September and 1.5 percent over the year. Utility (piped) gas service prices rose 7.0 percent from September to November, but were 16.7 percent lower than a year ago. The overall fuels and utilities index declined 4.1 percent since November 2008. Led by lower prices for other lodging away from home, including hotels and motels, the shelter index fell 0.6 percent since September. The shelter index was 1.3 percent higher than its year-ago level. Prices for household furnishings and operations, the third component of the housing index, decreased 0.4 percent over the last two months and 0.6 percent over the year. Over the last 12 months, the housing index increased 0.5 percent.
Apparel prices fell as they normally do from September to November, down 4.3 percent. The recent two-month decrease was due in part to lower prices for men’s suits, sport coats, and outerwear and girls’ apparel. Since November 2008, apparel prices fell 7.8 percent—the largest over-the-year decline since July 2004.
The transportation index rose 3.7 percent since September due to higher prices for a number of items, including gasoline, motor vehicle insurance, and new vehicles. Gasoline prices increased 5.9 percent since September and 21.3 percent over the year. The overall transportation index advanced 9.1 percent since last November.
Education and communication prices rose 0.4 percent from September to November. Over the last 12 months, the education and communication index increased 2.5 percent.
The other goods and services index (which includes tobacco and smoking products, personal care products, personal care services, and miscellaneous personal services such as legal, funeral, and laundry and dry cleaning services) increased 0.9 percent over the last two months. Since November 2008, the other goods and services index advanced 5.2 percent.
The medical care index rose 0.4 percent over the last two months to a level 1.1 percent higher than last November.
The recreation index edged up 0.2 percent from September to November. Over the last 12 months, recreation prices increased 0.8 percent.
The food and beverages index inched up 0.1 percent over the last two months due to higher prices for both food away from home (0.1 percent) and alcoholic beverages (0.6 percent). Over the year, prices for food away from home rose 0.7 percent and prices for alcoholic beverages advanced 3.5 percent. Lower prices for food at home, down 0.1 percent since September, moderated the increase in the food and beverages index. Since last November, food at home prices fell 1.0 percent. The overall food and beverages index inched up 0.1 percent from its year-ago level.
The energy index, which reflects prices for gasoline and household fuels, decreased 1.1 percent since September as lower prices for electricity (-9.4 percent) were partially offset by higher prices for gasoline (5.9 percent) and utility (piped) gas service (7.0 percent). Over the year, energy prices rose 5.3 percent.
A 0.5-percent decline in services prices was responsible for all of the two-month decrease in the overall local index. Since November 2008, services prices advanced 1.5 percent. The commodities index rose 0.6 percent since September to a level 1.7 percent higher than a year ago.
The CPI-U for the Washington-Baltimore area stood at 140.718 on the November 1996=100 reference base, which means that a market basket of goods and services that averaged $100.00 in November 1996 would have cost $140.72 in November.
The Washington-Baltimore, D.C.-Md.-Va.-W.Va., Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Area (CMSA) includes the District of Columbia; Baltimore City and the counties of Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Calvert, Carroll, Charles, Frederick, Harford, Howard, Montgomery, Prince George’s, Queen Anne’s, and Washington in Maryland; the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Fredericksburg, Manassas, and Manassas Park and the counties of Arlington, Clarke, Fairfax, Fauquier, King George, Loudoun, Prince William, Rappahannock, Spotsylvania, Stafford, and Warren in Virginia; and the counties of Berkeley and Jefferson in West Virginia.
The relative importance of a component of the CPI is its expenditure or value weight expressed as a percentage of all items within an area. Relative importance ratios show approximately how the index population distributes expenditures when the value weights are collected and represent an estimate of how consumers would distribute their expenditures as prices change over time. Relative importance ratios cannot be used as estimates of current spending patterns or as indicators of changing consumer expenditures in the intervals between weight revisions because consumption patterns are influenced by factors—including income, variations in climate, family size, and availability of new and different kinds of goods and services—other than price change. (See table A.)
Last Modified Date: December 17, 2009