Wednesday, October 13, 2021
Prices in the Boston area, as measured by the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U), inched down 0.1 percent for the two months ending in September 2021, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. (See table 1.) Regional Commissioner William J. Sibley noted that the September decrease was influenced by lower prices for all items less food and energy, led by lower prices within new and used motor vehicles and shelter, down 5.2 and 0.7 percent, respectively. (Data in this report are not seasonally adjusted. Accordingly, bi-monthly changes may reflect seasonal influences.)
Over the last 12 months, the CPI-U increased 4.0 percent. (See chart 1 and table 1.) The index for all items less food and energy increased 2.7 percent over the year. Higher new and used motor vehicles and shelter costs, up 18.5 and 2.1 percent, respectively, led the increase. Energy prices jumped 26.1 percent, largely the result of an increase in the price of gasoline. This was the second-largest annual increase in the local energy index since September 2008 (26.9 percent). Food prices increased 3.8 percent. (See table 1.)
Food prices advanced 0.4 percent for the two months ending in September. (See table 1.) Prices for food away from home rose 1.0 percent, and prices for food at home inched down 0.1 percent for the same period.
Over the year, food prices increased 3.8 percent. Prices for food away from home jumped 10.2 percent since a year ago, and prices for food at home declined 0.6 percent. The annual increase for prices within food away from home was the highest since a 10.7 percent advance recorded in May 1984.
The energy index rose 1.8 percent for the two months ending in September. The increase was mainly due to higher prices for gasoline (2.4 percent). Prices for natural gas service advanced 2.2 percent, and prices for electricity rose 1.3 percent for the same period.
Energy prices jumped 26.1 percent over the year, largely due to higher prices for gasoline (42.9 percent). Prices paid for natural gas service jumped 22.8 percent, and prices for electricity increased 8.9 percent during the past year.
All items less food and energy
The index for all items less food and energy declined 0.4 percent in the latest two-month period. Lower prices for new and used motor vehicles (-5.2 percent), shelter (-0.7 percent) and recreation (-2.4 percent) were partially offset by higher prices for household furnishings and operations (3.7 percent) and apparel (5.7 percent).
Over the year, the index for all items less food and energy increased 2.7 percent. Components contributing to the increase included new and used motor vehicles (18.5 percent), shelter (2.1 percent) and household furnishings and operations (6.7 percent). Partly offsetting the increases was a price decrease in recreation (-1.7 percent). Within new and used motor vehicles and shelter, higher prices for used cars and trucks and owners’ equivalent rent of residences, up 27.7 and 2.1 percent, respectively, led the increases.
In September, the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) was 294.003. The CPI-W was unchanged (0.0 percent) over two months and increased 4.4 percent over the year.
The November 2021 Consumer Price Index for Boston-Cambridge-Newton area is scheduled to be released on Friday, December 10, 2021, at 8:30 a.m. (ET).
Data collection by personal visit for the Consumer Price Index (CPI) program has been suspended since March 16, 2020. When possible, data normally collected by personal visit were collected either online or by phone. Additionally, data collection in September 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 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/covid19/effects-of-covid-19-pandemic-on-consumer-price-index.htm
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a measures 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 Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Mass.-N.H. Core Based Statistical Area covered in this release is comprised of Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth, Suffolk Counties in Massachusetts; Rockingham, Strafford Counties in New Hampshire.
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.
|Expenditure category||Indexes||Percent change from|
All items (1967 = 100)
Food and beverages
Food at home
Cereal 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(2)
Fuels and utilities
Utility (piped) gas service(2)
Household furnishings and operations
New and used motor vehicles(5)
Used cars and trucks(1)
Gasoline (all types)
Gasoline, unleaded regular(6)
Gasoline, unleaded premium(6)
Motor vehicle insurance(1)
Education and communication(5)
Tuition, other 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(3)
Services less medical care services
All items less energy
All items less food and energy
Note: Index applies to a month as a whole, not to any specific date.
Last Modified Date: Wednesday, October 13, 2021