Tuesday, February 14, 2023
Prices in the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria area, as measured by the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U), decreased 0.3 percent for the 2 months ending in January 2023, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Regional Commissioner Alexandra Hall Bovee noted that the January decline was the largest bimonthly decrease since March 2020 and was due largely to a decline in the medical care index. The all items less food and energy index, which includes medical care, contributed the most to the decrease as it declined 0.5 percent, while the energy index was down 1.9 percent. These declines were offset by a 1.6-percent rise in the food index. (Data in this report are not seasonally adjusted. Accordingly, bi-monthly changes may reflect seasonal influences.)
Over the last 12 months, the CPI-U index was up 4.4 percent, the smallest price increase since July 2021. The all items less food and energy index was mainly responsible as it rose 3.6 percent. (See chart 1 and table A.) Food prices were up 6.5 percent over the year and the energy index increased 10.2 percent over the year. (See table 1.)Food
The food index rose 1.6 percent over the last 2 months, the same as the November bimonthly increase. Prices for food at home were also up 1.6 percent, while prices for food away from home increased 1.7 percent. Within the food at home category, prices for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs rose 2.5 percent while cereals and bakery products prices were up 3.5 percent. Prices for eggs advanced over the 2-month period. Nonalcoholic beverages and beverage materials prices increased 3.8 percent (this index has risen every January for the last 6 years) and the other food at home index increased 0.9 percent. The only grocery category to register a decrease was fruits and vegetables with a 0.4-percent decline, falling slightly after a 3.5-percent increase last November.
Over-the-year, food prices increased 6.5 percent; increases in 2022 ranged from 6.2 percent to 8.9 percent. The 7.6-percent increase for grocery prices was the smallest 12-month increase in the past year, down from the peak of 12.4 percent in July. Prices for food away from home were up 5.1 percent over the year (the same as last November). All grocery categories had price increases from a year ago but generally moderated from previous rates of increase. Prices for dairy and related products were up 16.2 percent, down from the series high of 18.8 percent in July; meats, poultry, fish, and eggs prices increased 7.0 percent and other food at home index had a 5.6-percent rise, well below the series high of 15.6 percent last July.Energy
In January, the energy index decreased 1.9 percent over the 2-month period due to a 6.5-percent decline in the gasoline index; the last time both indexes rose was July 2022. The utility (piped) gas index increased 9.5 percent and the electricity index registered no change.
Energy prices continued to moderate, up 10.2 percent over the year, the smallest increase since March 2021. Prices across all energy components were up including electricity which rose 16.4 percent, continuing a trend of bimonthly increases ranging from 10.0 to 19.1 percent since May 2022. The utility (piped) gas service index was up 21.9 percent while gasoline prices increased 1.8 percent, down from the peak of 61.3 percent in June and the smallest change in the index in nearly 2 years.All items less food and energy
The index for all items less food and energy decreased 0.5 percent in the 2 months ended in January 2023, the first decline in the index since March 2020. This was mainly because of lower prices for medical care, down 6.7 percent, the largest 2-month decrease since the index began in 1998. A lower medical care services index was responsible for the decline. Prices for public transportation were down while the new and used motor vehicles index had a 0.7-percent decrease caused by lower prices for used cars and trucks (down 3.9 percent). Components of the all items less food and energy index that offset the decreases included shelter (up 0.5 percent), apparel (up 3.3 percent), and recreation (up 0.6 percent). Within shelter, owners’ equivalent rent of residences increased 0.7 percent, rent of primary residence was up 1.0 percent, but lodging away from home declined.
Over the year, the index for all items less food and energy increased 3.6 percent (the smallest increase since July 2021). This increase was primarily due to a 4.5-percent rise in the shelter index, as a component index, owners’ equivalent rent of residences was up 4.4 percent; both were the highest rise since May 2007. Also in shelter, the index for rent of primary residence advanced 6.2 percent, the greatest increase since September 2002. All other main components of the all items less food and energy index were up over the year. Prices for new and used motor vehicles rose 4.5 percent, and the recreation index had a 3.6-percent increase. Within the new and used motor vehicle index, prices for used cars and trucks were down 11.3 percent, the largest drop since the series began in 2018.
The March 2023 Consumer Price Index for the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria area is scheduled to be released on April 12, 2023.
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 93 percent of the total U.S. population and (2) a CPI for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) which covers approximately 29 percent of the total U.S. 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 75 urban areas across the country from about 6,000 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.
The index measures price changes from a designated reference date; for most of the CPI-U the reference base is 1982-84 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. For further details see the CPI home page on the Internet at www.bls.gov/cpi and the CPI section of the BLS Handbook of Methods available on the internet at www.bls.gov/opub/hom/cpi/.
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-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MA-WV, Core Based Statistical Area includes the District of Columbia; the counties of Calvert, Charles, Frederick, Montgomery, and Prince George’s in Maryland; the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Fredericksburg, Manassas, and Manassas Park and the counties of Arlington, Clarke, Culpeper, Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun, Prince William, Rappahannock, Spotsylvania, Stafford, and Warren in Virginia; and the county of Jefferson in West Virginia.
Information in this release will be made available to individuals with sensory impairments upon request. Voice phone: (202) 691-5200; Telecommunications Relay Service: 7-1-1.
|Expenditure category||Indexes||Percent change from|
Food and beverages
Food at home
Cereals and bakery products
Meats, poultry, fish, and eggs
Dairy and related products
Fruits and vegetables
Nonalcoholic beverages and beverage materials(1)
Other food at home
Food away from home
Rent of primary residence
Owners' equivalent rent of residences(2)
Owners' equivalent rent of primary residence(2)
Fuels and utilities
Utility (piped) gas service
Household furnishings and operations
New and used motor vehicles(3)
Used cars and trucks(1)
Gasoline (all types)
Gasoline, unleaded regular(4)
Gasoline, unleaded premium(4)
Education and communication(3)
Tuition, other school fees, and child care(1)
Other goods and services
Commodity and service group
Commodities less food and beverages
Nondurables less food and beverages
Special aggregate indexes
All items less shelter
All items less medical care
Commodities less food
Nondurables less food
Services less rent of shelter(2)
Services less medical care services
All items less energy
All items less food and energy
Last Modified Date: Tuesday, February 14, 2023