Transmission of material in this release is embargoed until
8:30 a.m. (EDT) March 13, 2018 USDL-18-0373
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CONSUMER PRICE INDEX – FEBRUARY 2018
The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.2 percent
in February on a seasonally adjusted basis after rising 0.5 percent in January,
the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months,
the all items index rose 2.2 percent before seasonal adjustment.
The indexes for shelter, apparel, and motor vehicle insurance all rose and
contributed to the 1-month seasonally adjusted increase in the all items index.
The food index was unchanged in February, as a decline in the index for food at
home offset an increase in the food away from home index. The energy index
increased slightly, with its component indexes mixed.
The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.2 percent in February
following a 0.3-percent increase in January. Along with shelter, apparel, and
motor vehicle insurance, the indexes for household furnishings and operations,
education, personal care, and airline fares also increased in February. In
contrast, the indexes for communication, new vehicles, medical care, and used
cars and trucks declined over the month.
The all items index rose 2.2 percent for the 12 months ending February, a slightly
larger increase than the 2.1-percent rise for the 12 months ending January. The
index for all items less food and energy rose 1.8 percent over the past year, while
the energy index increased 7.7 percent and the food index advanced 1.4 percent.
Table A. Percent changes in CPI for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U): U.S. city average
Seasonally adjusted changes from
Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec. Jan. Feb. ended
2017 2017 2017 2017 2017 2018 2018 Feb.
All items.................. .4 .5 .1 .3 .2 .5 .2 2.2
Food...................... .1 .1 .1 .0 .2 .2 .0 1.4
Food at home............. -.1 .0 .1 -.1 .2 .1 -.2 .5
Food away from home (1).. .3 .3 .1 .2 .2 .4 .2 2.6
Energy.................... 3.3 4.7 -1.4 3.2 -.2 3.0 .1 7.7
Energy commodities....... 7.2 9.6 -3.0 5.8 -.7 5.8 -.9 12.8
Gasoline (all types).... 7.4 10.0 -3.2 6.0 -.8 5.7 -.9 12.6
Fuel oil................ 5.2 6.4 1.4 5.6 .9 9.5 -3.6 20.7
Energy services.......... -.1 .0 .4 .5 .4 -.8 1.4 2.6
Electricity............. .0 .1 .4 .5 .2 -.2 .4 2.2
Utility (piped) gas
service.............. -.5 -.4 .4 .7 1.0 -2.6 4.7 3.8
All items less food and
energy................. .2 .1 .2 .1 .2 .3 .2 1.8
Commodities less food and
energy commodities.... -.1 -.2 .0 -.1 .2 .4 .1 -.5
New vehicles............ .0 -.3 -.2 .2 .5 -.1 -.5 -1.5
Used cars and trucks.... -.1 -.3 .7 .5 .7 .4 -.3 -.1
Apparel................. .0 .1 -.2 -.9 -.3 1.7 1.5 .4
Medical care commodities -.2 -.5 .0 .5 .9 -.1 -.3 1.6
Services less energy
services.............. .3 .2 .3 .2 .3 .3 .2 2.6
Shelter................. .4 .2 .3 .2 .3 .2 .2 3.1
Transportation services .4 .3 .4 .1 .3 .8 1.0 4.5
Medical care services... .2 .1 .3 -.1 .2 .6 .0 1.8
1 Not seasonally adjusted.
The food index was unchanged in February, as the index for food away from home
rose 0.2 percent and the food at home index declined 0.2 percent. All six major
grocery store food group indexes declined in February. The index for fruits and
vegetables declined 0.5 percent after rising 0.5 percent in January. The index
for dairy and related products declined 0.3 percent in February after being
unchanged in January.
The index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs fell 0.2 percent in February. The
index for eggs increased 2.0 percent, but the indexes for beef and pork declined.
The indexes for cereals and bakery products, nonalcoholic beverages, and other
food at home all declined 0.1 percent in February.
The index for food at home rose 0.5 percent over the last 12 months. Of the six
major grocery store food group indexes, three increased over the last 12 months
(fruits and vegetables; meats, poultry, fish, and eggs; and other food at home),
while the remaining indexes (dairy and related products, nonalcoholic beverages,
and cereals and bakery products) declined. The index for food away from home
increased 2.6 percent over the last 12 months.
The energy index increased 0.1 percent in February following a 3.0-percent
increase in January. The gasoline index declined in February, falling 0.9 percent
after rising 5.7 percent the prior month. (Before seasonal adjustment, gasoline
prices increased 1.6 percent in February.) The fuel oil index declined 3.6 percent
after a sharp increase in January. In contrast, the index for natural gas rose
4.7 percent in February, its largest 1-month increase since March 2014. The
electricity index also rose in February, increasing 0.4 percent.
The energy index rose 7.7 percent over the past year, with all the component
indexes increasing. The gasoline index rose 12.6 percent and the fuel oil index
increased 20.7 percent. The index for natural gas increased 3.8 percent, and the
electricity index rose 2.2 percent.
All items less food and energy
The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.2 percent in February.
The shelter index increased 0.2 percent, with the indexes for rent and owners'
equivalent rent both rising 0.2 percent and the index for lodging away from home
unchanged. The apparel index continued to rise, increasing 1.5 percent in February
following a 1.7-percent rise in January. The index for motor vehicle insurance
also continued to increase sharply, rising 1.7 percent in February.
The index for household furnishings and operations rose 0.3 percent in February.
The education index increased 0.2 percent, as did the index for personal care. The
indexes for alcoholic beverages and tobacco also increased in February.
The medical care index declined 0.1 percent in February, with its component indexes
mixed. The hospital services index fell 0.5 percent and the index for prescription
drugs decreased 0.4 percent, but the physicians' services index rose 0.2 percent.
The communication index fell 0.6 percent in February. The index for new vehicles
declined 0.5 percent, its largest 1-month decrease since August 2009. The index for
used cars and trucks fell 0.3 percent in February after rising in each of the last
4 months. The recreation index was unchanged in February.
The index for all items less food and energy rose 1.8 percent over the past 12 months,
the same figure as the prior 2 months. The shelter index rose 3.1 percent over the
span, and the index for medical care advanced 1.8 percent. Indexes that declined over
the past year include communication, new vehicles, airline fares, and used cars and
Not seasonally adjusted CPI measures
The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 2.2 percent over the
last 12 months to an index level of 248.991 (1982-84=100). For the month, the index
increased 0.5 percent prior to seasonal adjustment.
The Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) increased
2.3 percent over the last 12 months to an index level of 242.988 (1982-84=100). For the
month, the index increased 0.4 percent prior to seasonal adjustment.
The Chained Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (C-CPI-U) increased 2.0 percent
over the last 12 months. For the month, the index increased 0.4 percent on a not
seasonally adjusted basis. Please note that the indexes for the past 10 to 12 months are
subject to revision.
The Consumer Price Index for March 2018 is scheduled to be released on Wednesday,
April 11, 2018, at 8:30 a.m. (EDT).
Brief Explanation of the CPI
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) measures the change in prices paid by consumers for goods and
services. The CPI reflects spending patterns for each of two population groups: all urban consumers
and urban wage earners and clerical workers. The all urban consumer group represents about 93 percent
of the total U.S. population. It is based on the expenditures of almost all residents of urban or
metropolitan areas, including professionals, the self-employed, the poor, the unemployed, and retired
people, as well as urban wage earners and clerical workers. Not included in the CPI are the spending
patterns of people living in rural nonmetropolitan areas, farming families, people in the Armed
Forces, and those in institutions, such as prisons and mental hospitals. Consumer inflation for all
urban consumers is measured by two indexes, namely, the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers
(CPI-U) and the Chained Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (C-CPI-U).
The Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) is based on the
expenditures of households included in the CPI-U definition that meet two requirements: more than
one-half of the household's income must come from clerical or wage occupations, and at least one of
the household's earners must have been employed for at least 37 weeks during the previous 12 months.
The CPI-W population represents about 29 percent of the total U.S. population and is a subset of the
The CPIs are based on prices of food, clothing, shelter, fuels, transportation, doctors’ and dentists’
services, drugs, and other goods and services that people buy for day-to-day living. Prices are
collected each month in 75 urban areas across the country from about 5,000 housing units and
approximately 22,000 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. Prices of fuels and a few other items are
obtained every month in all 75 locations. Prices of most other commodities and services are collected
every month in the three largest geographic areas and every other month in other areas. Prices of most
goods and services are obtained by personal visits or telephone calls by the Bureau’s trained
In calculating the index, price changes for the various items in each location are aggregated using
weights, which represent their importance in the spending of the appropriate population group. Local
data are then combined to obtain a U.S. city average. For the CPI-U and CPI-W, separate indexes are
also published by size of city, by region of the country, for cross-classifications of regions and
population-size classes, and for 23 selected local areas. Area indexes do not measure differences in
the level of prices among cities; they only measure the average change in prices for each area since
the base period. For the C-CPI-U, data are issued only at the national level. The CPI-U and CPI-W are
considered final when released, but the C-CPI-U is issued in preliminary form and subject to three
subsequent quarterly revisions.
The index measures price change from a designed reference date. For most of the CPI-U and the CPI-W,
the reference base is 1982-84 equals 100. The reference base for the C-CPI-U is December 1999 equals
100. An increase of 7 percent from the reference base, for example, is shown as 107.000.
Alternatively, that relationship can also be expressed as the price of a base period market basket
of goods and services rising from $100 to $107.
Sampling Error in the CPI
The CPI is a statistical estimate that is subject to sampling error because it is based upon a sample
of retail prices and not the complete universe of all prices. BLS calculates and publishes estimates
of the 1-month, 2-month, 6-month, and 12-month percent change standard errors annually for the CPI-U.
These standard error estimates can be used to construct confidence intervals for hypothesis testing.
For example, the estimated standard error of the 1-month percent change is 0.03 percent for the U.S.
all items CPI. This means that if we repeatedly sample from the universe of all retail prices using
the same methodology, and estimate a percentage change for each sample, then 95 percent of these
estimates will be within 0.06 percent of the 1-month percentage change based on all retail prices.
For example, for a 1-month change of 0.2 percent in the all items CPI-U, we are 95 percent confident
that the actual percent change based on all retail prices would fall between 0.14 and 0.26 percent.
For the latest data, including information on how to use the estimates of standard error,
Calculating Index Changes
Movements of the indexes from 1 month to another are usually expressed as percent changes rather than
changes in index points, because index point changes are affected by the level of the index in
relation to its base period, while percent changes are not. The following table shows an example of
using index values to calculate percent changes:
Item A Item B Item C
Year I 112.500 225.000 110.000
Year II 121.500 243.000 128.000
Change in index points 9.000 18.000 18.000
Percent change 9.0/112.500 x 100 = 8.0 18.0/225.000 x 100 = 8.0 18.0/110.000 x 100 = 16.4
Use of Seasonally Adjusted and Unadjusted Data
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) produces both unadjusted and seasonally adjusted data. Seasonally
adjusted data are computed using seasonal factors derived by the X-13ARIMA-SEATS seasonal adjustment
method. These factors are updated each February, and the new factors are used to revise the previous
5 years of seasonally adjusted data. For more information on data revision scheduling, please see the
Factsheet on Seasonal Adjustment at www.bls.gov/cpi/seasonal-adjustment/questions-and-answers.htm and
the Timeline of Seasonal Adjustment Methodological Changes at
For analyzing short-term price trends in the economy, seasonally adjusted changes are usually preferred
since they eliminate the effect of changes that normally occur at the same time and in about the same
magnitude every year—such as price movements resulting from weather events, production cycles, model
changeovers, holidays, and sales. This allows data users to focus on changes that are not typical for
the time of year. The unadjusted data are of primary interest to consumers concerned about the prices
they actually pay. Unadjusted data are also used extensively for escalation purposes. Many collective
bargaining contract agreements and pension plans, for example, tie compensation changes to the Consumer
Price Index before adjustment for seasonal variation. BLS advises against the use of seasonally adjusted
data in escalation agreements because seasonally adjusted series are revised annually.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics uses intervention analysis seasonal adjustment for some CPI series.
Sometimes extreme values or sharp movements can distort the underlying seasonal pattern of price change.
Intervention analysis seasonal adjustment is a process by which the distortions caused by such unusual
events are estimated and removed from the data prior to calculation of seasonal factors. The resulting
seasonal factors, which more accurately represent the seasonal pattern, are then applied to the
For example, this procedure was used for the motor fuel series to offset the effects of the 2009 return
to normal pricing after the worldwide economic downturn in 2008. Retaining this outlier data during
seasonal factor calculation would distort the computation of the seasonal portion of the time series
data for motor fuel, so it was estimated and removed from the data prior to seasonal adjustment.
Following that, seasonal factors were calculated based on this “prior adjusted” data. These seasonal
factors represent a clearer picture of the seasonal pattern in the data. The last step is for motor fuel
seasonal factors to be applied to the unadjusted data.
For the seasonal factors introduced in January 2018, BLS adjusted 38 series using intervention analysis
seasonal adjustment, including selected food and beverage items, motor fuels, and natural gas.
Revision of Seasonally Adjusted Indexes
Seasonally adjusted data, including the U.S. city average all items index levels, are subject to revision
for up to 5 years after their original release. Every year, economists in the CPI calculate new seasonal
factors for seasonally adjusted series and apply them to the last 5 years of data. Seasonally adjusted
indexes beyond the last 5 years of data are considered to be final and not subject to revision. In
January 2018, revised seasonal factors and seasonally adjusted indexes for 2013 to 2017 were calculated
and published. For series which are directly adjusted using the Census X-13ARIMA-SEATS seasonal adjustment
software, the seasonal factors for 2017 will be applied to data for 2018 to produce the seasonally
adjusted 2018 indexes. Series which are indirectly seasonally adjusted by summing seasonally adjusted
component series have seasonal factors which are derived and are therefore not available in advance.
Determining Seasonal Status
Each year the seasonal status of every series is reevaluated based upon certain statistical criteria.
Using these criteria, BLS economists determine whether a series should change its status from
"not seasonally adjusted" to "seasonally adjusted", or vice versa. If any of the 81 components of the
U.S. city average all items index change their seasonal adjustment status from seasonally adjusted to
not seasonally adjusted, not seasonally adjusted data will be used in the aggregation of the dependent
series for the last 5 years, but the seasonally adjusted indexes before that period will not be changed.
Twenty-nine of the 81 components of the U.S. city average all items index are not seasonally adjusted
For additional information about the CPI visit www.bls.gov/cpi or contact the CPI Information and Analysis
Section at 202-691-7000 or email@example.com.
For additional information on seasonal adjustment in the CPI visit
https://www.bls.gov/cpi/seasonal-adjustment/home.htm or contact the CPI seasonal adjustment section at
202-691-6968 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Information from this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request.
Voice phone: 202-691-5200; Federal Relay Service: 1-800-877-8339.