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20-616-PHI
Friday, April 10, 2020

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Consumer Price Index, Washington-Arlington-Alexandria – March 2020

Area prices down 0.4 percent since January, up 0.4 percent over the year

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) for Washington-Arlington-Alexandria declined 0.4 percent from January to March, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Sheila Watkins, the Bureau’s regional commissioner, noted that the recent decrease was due to declines in the all items less food and energy index (-0.3 percent) and energy index (-4.9 percent). The food index increased since January, up 0.7 percent. (Data in this report are not seasonally adjusted. Accordingly, month-to-month changes may reflect the impact of seasonal influences.)

Over the last 12 months, the CPI-U advanced 0.4 percent, due largely to a 0.5-percent increase in the all items less food and energy index. (See chart 1 and table A.) Since March 2019, the food index also advanced, up 1.4 percent, while the energy index declined 3.9 percent. (See table 1.)

Food

Following a 0.4-percent increase from November to January, the food index advanced 0.7 percent over the last two months. Prices for food at home increased 0.8 percent, and those for food away from home rose 0.6 percent. Within the food at home component, prices were higher for uncooked beef steaks, citrus fruits, and eggs, while prices were lower for rice, pasta, cornmeal, among others.

Food prices increased 1.4 percent over the year. Prices were higher for food away from home (2.8 percent), and those for food at home inched up 0.1 percent since March 2019.

Energy

Since January, the energy index, which includes prices for household and transportation fuels, declined 4.9 percent, due mostly to lower prices for gasoline (-8.4 percent) and utility (piped) gas service (-7.3 percent). Prices were higher for electricity (0.4 percent) over the past two months.

Energy prices decreased 3.9 percent since March 2019, due to lower prices for gasoline, down 6.3 percent. Over the year, prices also declined for utility (piped) gas (-8.3 percent), while electricity prices rose 0.7 percent.

All items less food and energy

The index for all items less food and energy decreased 0.3 percent since January. The decline was led by lower prices for shelter (-0.4 percent) and household furnishings and operations (-1.7 percent) over the last two months. Increased prices for several categories, including new and used motor vehicles (0.8 percent), moderated the decrease in the all items less food and energy index from January to March.

Since March 2019, the index for all items less food and energy rose 0.5 percent. Prices were higher for shelter (1.2 percent) and education and communication (2.9 percent), among others. Prices decreased for apparel (-5.2 percent) and recreation (-2.6 percent) since March 2019.

Table A. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV, CPI-U 2-month and 12-month percent changes, all items index, not seasonally adjusted
Month 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
2-month 12-month 2-month 12-month 2-month 12-month 2-month 12-month 2-month 12-month

January

-0.2 1.5 0.2 1.5 0.9 2.2 0.5 0.8 0.5 1.6

March

0.8 1.1 0.4 1.1 -0.1 1.8 0.7 1.6 -0.4 0.4

May

0.8 1.2 0.0 0.3 0.7 2.5 0.6 1.6

July

-0.2 1.3 0.0 0.5 0.1 2.5 -0.3 1.2

September

-0.3 0.5 0.9 1.7 0.4 2.0 0.1 0.9

November

0.2 1.1 0.0 1.5 -0.7 1.3 -0.2 1.5

The Consumer Price Index for May 2020 is scheduled to be released on Wednesday, June 10, 2020, at 8:30 a.m. (EDT).

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Impact on March 2020 Consumer Price Index Data

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) program suspended data collection by personal visit on March 16, 2020. When possible, data normally collected by personal visit were collected either online or by phone. Additionally, data collection in March was affected by the temporary closing or limited operations of certain types of establishments. These factors resulted in an increase in the number of prices being considered temporarily unavailable and imputed. While the CPI program attempted to collect as much data as possible, many indexes are based on smaller amounts of collected prices than usual, and a small number of indexes that are normally published were not published this month. Additional information is available at www.bls.gov/bls/effects-of-covid-19-pandemic-on-bls-price-indexes.htm#CPI.


Technical Note

The Consumer Price Index for Washington-Arlington-Alexandria is published bi-monthly. 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 94 percent of the total population and (2) a CPI for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) which covers approximately 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 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.

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/pdf/homch17.pdf.

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 sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: (202) 691-5200; Federal Relay Service: (800) 877-8339.

Table 1. Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U): Indexes and percent changes for selected periods, Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV, (1982-84=100 unless otherwise noted) (not seasonally adjusted)
Expenditure category Indexes Percent change from
Historical
data
Jan.
2020
Feb.
2020
Mar.
2020
Mar.
2019
Jan.
2020
Feb.
2020

All items

266.433   265.385 0.4 -0.4  

Food and beverages

254.624   255.983 1.2 0.5  

Food

260.038   261.802 1.4 0.7  

Food at home

245.792 250.351 247.673 0.1 0.8 -1.1

Cereals and bakery products

313.834   298.796 -7.6 -4.8  

Meats, poultry, fish, and eggs

267.455   279.805 7.4 4.6  

Dairy and related products

235.751   245.925 6.2 4.3  

Fruits and vegetables

271.505   262.300 -5.6 -3.4  

Nonalcoholic beverages and beverage materials(1)

215.619   215.465 -0.6 -0.1  

Other food at home

201.073   204.270 -0.3 1.6  

Food away from home

278.852   280.506 2.8 0.6  

Alcoholic beverages

201.676   199.806 -1.5 -0.9  

Housing

281.319   279.541 0.8 -0.6  

Shelter

338.393 338.262 336.903 1.2 -0.4 -0.4

Rent of primary residence

372.756 373.658 373.812 2.9 0.3 0.0

Owners' equivalent rent of residences(2)

345.226 345.850 345.797 2.1 0.2 0.0

Owners' equivalent rent of primary residence(2)

345.226 345.850 345.797 2.1 0.2 0.0

Fuels and utilities

238.722   235.829 -0.3 -1.2  

Household energy

185.516 182.604 182.672 -1.6 -1.5 0.0

Energy services

190.046 186.710 186.709 -1.9 -1.8 0.0

Electricity

212.708 211.953 213.653 0.7 0.4 0.8

Utility (piped) gas service

137.635 130.396 127.643 -8.3 -7.3 -2.1

Household furnishings and operations

111.397   109.537 -1.2 -1.7  

Apparel

156.581   158.328 -5.2 1.1  

Transportation

215.812   211.419 -1.4 -2.0  

Private transportation

215.271   213.440 -0.1 -0.9  

New and used motor vehicles(3)

93.224   94.007 -0.9 0.8  

New vehicles(1)

195.813   195.231 -2.3 -0.3  

Used cars and trucks(1)

292.626   302.329 0.7 3.3  

Motor fuel

239.133 227.031 219.235 -6.3 -8.3 -3.4

Gasoline (all types)

236.395 224.309 216.592 -6.3 -8.4 -3.4

Gasoline, unleaded regular(4)

230.246 218.153 210.387 -6.6 -8.6 -3.6

Gasoline, unleaded midgrade(4)(5)

239.566 226.687 219.867 -7.1 -8.2 -3.0

Gasoline, unleaded premium(4)

255.575 245.968 239.926 -3.6 -6.1 -2.5

Motor vehicle insurance(1)

876.170   897.449 6.1 2.4  

Medical care

467.222   466.517 2.3 -0.2  

Recreation(3)

116.019   116.268 -2.6 0.2  

Education and communication(3)

152.560   152.898 2.9 0.2  

Tuition, other school fees, and child care(1)

1,407.834   1,407.834 3.3 0.0  

Other goods and services

424.054   427.390 2.6 0.8  

Commodity and service group

Commodities

180.522   180.294 -0.8 -0.1  

Commodities less food and beverages

143.273   142.299 -2.2 -0.7  

Nondurables less food and beverages

190.872   187.904 -2.8 -1.6  

Durables

99.582   99.909 -1.7 0.3  

Services

344.641   342.738 1.1 -0.6  

Special aggregate indexes

All items less shelter

237.539   236.658 0.0 -0.4  

All items less medical care

256.943   255.878 0.3 -0.4  

Commodities less food

145.978   144.960 -2.2 -0.7  

Nondurables

221.759   221.139 -0.5 -0.3  

Nondurables less food

191.665   188.833 -2.6 -1.5  

Services less rent of shelter(2)

363.262   360.379 0.8 -0.8  

Services less medical care services

332.442   330.342 0.8 -0.6  

Energy

212.881 205.894 202.529 -3.9 -4.9 -1.6

All items less energy

273.970   273.522 0.7 -0.2  

All items less food and energy

277.780   276.872 0.5 -0.3  

Footnotes
(1) Indexes on a November 1977=100 base.
(2) Indexes on a November 1982=100 base.
(3) Indexes on a December 1997=100 base.
(4) Special index based on a substantially smaller sample.
(5) Indexes on a December 1993=100 base.

 

Last Modified Date: Friday, April 10, 2020