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12-1238-PHI

Thursday, June 14, 2012

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Consumer Price Index, Washington-Baltimore – May 2012

Area Prices Up 0.1 Percent Since March; 1.8 Percent Over the Year

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) in the Washington-Baltimore area inched up 0.1 percent from March to May, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Sheila Watkins, the Bureau’s regional commissioner, noted that a two-month increase in the all items less food and energy index (0.2 percent) was nearly offset by a decrease in the energy index (-1.6 percent). Higher prices for shelter led the advance in the all items less food and energy group over the last two months, while lower prices for gasoline dominated the decline in the energy group. The food index was unchanged since March. (Data in this report are not seasonally adjusted. Accordingly, two-month changes may reflect the impact of seasonal influences.)

Over the last 12 months, the CPI-U rose 1.8 percent; higher prices for all items less food and energy (2.6 percent) led the advance. (See chart 1 and table A.) Food prices also rose since May 2011, up 1.8 percent, while energy prices fell 5.7 percent over the year. (See table 1.)

Chart 1. 12-month percent change in CPI for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U), Washington-Baltimore, May 2009 to May 2012 (not seasonally adjusted)

Food

The food index was unchanged from March to May as a 0.5-percent increase in prices for food away from home was offset by a 0.3-percent decline in those for food at home. The decrease in the food at home component was led by lower prices for uncooked ground beef and ice cream and related products, while higher prices for other items such as carbonated drinks and frozen fruits and vegetables moderated the decline.

Over the year, the food index rose 1.8 percent. Prices rose for both components of the food index, food away from home (2.2 percent) and food at home (1.6 percent), since last May.

Energy

The energy index, which includes prices for household and transportation fuels, fell 1.6 percent since March, due almost entirely to a 2.6-percent decrease in gasoline prices. Utility (piped) gas service prices were also lower over the last two months, down 1.3 percent, while electricity prices edged up 0.3 percent.

Energy prices fell 5.7 percent over the year—the first 12-month decline since September 2010—as its three largest components all recorded decreases. Gasoline prices dropped 5.9-percent, the first over-the-year decline since October 2009. Prices for both electricity and utility (piped) gas service also fell over the year, down 4.6 and 6.4 percent, respectively.

All items less food and energy

The index for all items less food and energy edged up 0.2 percent from March to May, due largely to an increase in prices for shelter (0.5 percent). Within the shelter index, prices for owners’ equivalent rent of residences rose 0.4 percent and those for rent of primary residence, 0.9 percent since March. Moderating the overall two-month increase were lower apparel prices, which fell 2.8 percent, among others.

Since May 2011, the index for all items less food and energy rose 2.6 percent. The recent advance was led by higher shelter prices, up 3.3 percent—the largest over-the-year increase since November 2008. Within the shelter index, prices for owners’ equivalent rent of residences rose 3.0 percent and those for rent of primary residence, 4.2 percent—both the largest 12-month increases in their respective indexes in over a year.

The July 2012 Consumer Price Index for Washington-Baltimore is scheduled to be released on August 15, 2012, at 8:30 a.m. (ET).

Table A. Washington-Baltimore CPI-U 2-month and 12-month percent changes, all items index (not seasonally adjusted)
Month 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
2-month 12-month 2-month 12-month 2-month 12-month 2-month 12-month 2-month 12-month 2-month 12-month

January

0.5 2.9 0.8 4.9 -0.7 1.0 0.3 2.6 1.0 2.3 0.4 2.7

March

1.5 4.1 1.3 4.7 0.7 0.4 0.4 2.3 1.2 3.0 1.3 2.8

May

0.8 3.2 1.1 5.0 0.5 -0.2 0.2 1.9 1.0 3.9 0.1 1.8

July

1.1 2.9 1.7 5.7 1.1 -0.9 0.0 0.8 0.1 4.1    

September

0.2 3.4 0.0 5.5 0.1 -0.8 0.5 1.3 -0.1 3.4    

November

0.4 4.5 -2.5 2.5 -0.2 1.6 0.1 1.6 -0.1 3.3    

 

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 87 percent of the total population and (2) a CPI for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) which covers 32 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 4,000 housing units and approximately 26,000 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 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, Culpeper, Fairfax, Fauquier, King George, Loudoun, Prince William, Spotsylvania, Stafford, and Warren in Virginia; and the counties of Berkeley and Jefferson in West Virginia.

Information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: 202-691-5200; TDD message referral phone number:  1-800-877-8339.

For personal assistance or further information on Consumer Price Indexes, as well as other Bureau products, contact the Mid-Atlantic Information Office at (215) 597-3282 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. ET.


Table 1. Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U): Indexes and percent changes for selected periods, Washington-Baltimore, D.C.-Md.-Va.-W.Va. (December 1997=100 unless otherwise noted)
Expenditure category Indexes Percent change from-
Mar. 2012 Apr. 2012 May 2012 May 2011 Mar. 2012 Apr. 2012

All items (1)

150.074 - 150.155 1.8 0.1 -

Food and beverages (1)

148.051 - 148.025 1.8 0.0 -

Food (1)

149.696 - 149.765 1.8 0.0 -

Food at home

145.300 146.748 144.854 1.6 -0.3 -1.3

Food away from home (2)

152.324 - 153.134 2.2 0.5 -

Alcoholic beverages (2)

125.997 - 124.854 0.9 -0.9 -

Housing (1)

157.095 - 157.780 2.4 0.4 -

Shelter

165.535 166.007 166.357 3.3 0.5 0.2

Rent of primary residence (1) (3)

181.993 182.486 183.625 4.2 0.9 0.6

Owners' equivalent rent of residences (3)

165.427 165.904 166.170 3.0 0.4 0.2

Owners' equivalent rent of primary residence (3)

165.415 165.892 166.159 3.0 0.4 0.2

Fuels and utilities

174.704 - 174.484 -3.2 -0.1 -

Household energy

171.070 173.282 170.679 -4.9 -0.2 -1.5

Energy services (3)

161.355 163.698 161.310 -5.3 0.0 -1.5

Electricity (3)

168.514 168.815 169.044 -4.6 0.3 0.1

Utility (piped) gas service (3)

122.441 129.889 120.879 -6.4 -1.3 -6.9

Household furnishings and operations

93.258 - 93.724 -0.3 0.5 -

Apparel (1)

103.281 - 100.382 -0.1 -2.8 -

Transportation (1)

154.154 - 153.686 -0.6 -0.3 -

Private transportation

154.078 - 153.366 -1.2 -0.5 -

Motor fuel

319.539 332.339 311.266 -5.7 -2.6 -6.3

Gasoline (all types)

319.364 332.428 311.194 -5.9 -2.6 -6.4

Gasoline, unleaded regular (4)

326.394 339.471 317.286 -6.0 -2.8 -6.5

Gasoline, unleaded midgrade (4)

312.451 326.201 306.157 -5.6 -2.0 -6.1

Gasoline, unleaded premium (4)

311.059 323.622 304.570 -5.3 -2.1 -5.9

Medical care (1)

160.779 - 160.955 4.1 0.1 -

Recreation

115.491 - 115.337 -0.3 -0.1 -

Education and communication

140.261 - 141.024 3.7 0.5 -

Other goods and services (1)

174.324 - 173.818 2.8 -0.3 -
Commodity and service group            

Commodities

132.382 - 131.713 -0.1 -0.5 -

Commodities less food and beverages

123.292 - 122.309 -1.3 -0.8 -

Nondurables less food and beverages

160.476 - 157.808 -1.5 -1.7 -

Durables

84.300 - 84.933 -0.9 0.8 -

Services

161.619 - 162.229 2.9 0.4 -
Special aggregate indexes            

All items less medical care (1)

149.412 - 149.488 1.6 0.1 -

All items less shelter

142.208 - 141.940 0.9 -0.2 -

Commodities less food

123.535 - 122.546 -1.2 -0.8 -

Nondurables

153.483 - 152.149 0.2 -0.9 -

Nondurables less food

157.697 - 155.145 -1.3 -1.6 -

Services less rent of shelter

158.019 - 158.376 2.3 0.2 -

Services less medical care services

161.764 - 162.403 2.8 0.4 -

Energy (1)

234.265 241.087 230.429 -5.7 -1.6 -4.4

All items less energy

143.897 - 144.208 2.5 0.2 -

All items less food and energy (1)

143.884 - 144.234 2.6 0.2 -

Footnotes
(1) For Washington-Baltimore, indexes on a November 1996=100 base.
(2) For Washington-Baltimore, indexes on a November 1997=100 base.
(3) This index series was calculated using a Laspeyres estimator. All other item stratum index series were calculated using a geometric means estimator.
(4) Special index based on a substantially smaller sample.
- Data not available.
NOTE: Index applies to a month as a whole, not to any specific date.