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News Release Information

Friday, June 11, 2021


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Consumer Price Index, Boston-Cambridge-Newton — May 2021

Area prices up 0.8 percent over two months; up 3.2 percent from a year ago

Prices in the Boston area, as measured by the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U), advanced 0.8 percent for the two months ending in May 2021, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. (See table.) Regional Commissioner William J. Sibley noted that the May increase was influenced by higher prices for all items less food and energy.  (Data in this report are not seasonally adjusted. Accordingly, bi-monthly changes may reflect seasonal influences.)

Over the last 12 months, the CPI-U advanced 3.2 percent. This was the largest advance since November 2018. (See chart 1 and table.) The index for all items less food and energy rose 2.3 percent over the year. Energy prices jumped 23.4 percent, largely the result of an increase in the price of gasoline. Food prices rose 1.2 percent. (See table.)


Food prices advanced 0.9 percent for the two months ending in May. (See table.) Prices for food at home rose 1.0 percent, and prices for food away from home rose 0.9 percent for the same period.

Over the year, food prices rose 1.2 percent. Prices for food away from home advanced 6.6 percent. Partially offsetting this advance were lower food at home prices, which decreased 2.4 percent since a year ago.


The energy index decreased 2.0 percent for the two months ending in May. The decrease was mainly due to lower prices for natural gas service (-20.3 percent) as suppliers switched to summer schedules. Prices for gasoline rose 5.5 percent, while prices for electricity decreased 2.6 percent for the same period.

Energy prices jumped 23.4 percent over the year, largely due to higher prices for gasoline (44.8 percent). Prices paid for natural gas service jumped 13.6 percent, and prices for electricity rose 3.6 percent during the past year.

All items less food and energy

The index for all items less food and energy rose 1.0 percent in the latest two-month period. Higher prices for new and used motor vehicles (7.9 percent); shelter (0.7 percent); and recreation (1.4 percent) were partially offset by lower prices for household furnishings and operations (-1.3 percent) and education and communication (-0.4 percent).

Over the year, the index for all items less food and energy rose 2.3 percent. Components contributing to the increase included new and used motor vehicles (14.8 percent); shelter (1.5 percent); and household furnishings and operations (3.1 percent). Partly offsetting the increases was a price decrease in recreation (-5.3 percent).


In May, the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) was 290.685. The CPI-W increased 0.7 percent over two months and increased 3.6 percent over the year.

The July 2021 Consumer Price Index for Boston-Cambridge-Newton area is scheduled to be released on Wednesday, August 11, 2021, at 8:30 a.m. (ET).

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Impact on May 2021 Consumer Price Index Data

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 May 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


Technical Note

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 and the CPI section of the BLS Handbook of Methods available on the internet at

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. 

Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U): Indexes and percent changes for selected periods, Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Ma.-N.H. (1982-84=100 unless otherwise noted) (not seasonally adjusted)
Expenditure category Indexes Percent change from

All items

289.240   291.667 3.2 0.8  

All items (1967 = 100)

840.685   847.738      

Food and beverages

286.713   289.240 1.4 0.9  


288.899   291.594 1.2 0.9  

Food at home

263.208 259.887 265.725 -2.4 1.0 2.2

Cereal and bakery products

303.975   319.379 -4.2 5.1  

Meats, poultry, fish, and eggs

282.857   283.348 -0.7 0.2  

Dairy and related products

288.382   290.198 -2.4 0.6  

Fruits and vegetables

343.859   347.441 -1.2 1.0  

Nonalcoholic beverages and beverage materials(1)

170.693   168.617 3.3 -1.2  

Other food at home

201.881   202.702 -6.1 0.4  

Food away from home

334.016   337.021 6.6 0.9  

Alcoholic beverages

266.886   267.683 4.3 0.3  


304.561   304.058 2.4 -0.2  


360.418 363.031 362.801 1.5 0.7 -0.1

Rent of primary residence(2)

375.726 375.556 375.599 1.5 0.0 0.0

Owners' equivalent rent of residences(2)(3)(4)

388.654 390.279 390.503 1.7 0.5 0.1

Owners' equivalent rent of primary residence(2)(3)(4)

388.654 390.279 390.503 1.7 0.5 0.1

Fuels and utilities

314.526   294.889 10.8 -6.2  

Household energy

263.506 266.061 244.715 11.0 -7.1 -8.0

Energy services(2)

281.648 285.055 257.078 6.4 -8.7 -9.8


315.096 320.925 306.803 3.6 -2.6 -4.4

Utility (piped) gas service(2)

214.344 214.339 170.924 13.6 -20.3 -20.3

Household furnishings and operations

133.185   131.507 3.1 -1.3  


127.278   128.455 4.9 0.9  


194.353   206.781 17.4 6.4  

Private transportation

201.763   211.085 18.3 4.6  

New and used motor vehicles(5)

112.018   120.889 14.8 7.9  

New Vehicles(1)

213.293   211.375 -5.5 -0.9  

Used cars and trucks(1)

353.745   412.651 31.0 16.7  

Motor fuel

238.316 243.287 251.448 44.4 5.5 3.4

Gasoline (all types)

235.775 240.753 248.840 44.8 5.5 3.4

Gasoline, unleaded regular(6)

228.954 233.961 241.364 47.2 5.4 3.2

Gasoline, unleaded midgrade(6)(7)

247.415 256.683 267.241 33.1 8.0 4.1

Gasoline, unleaded premium(6)

246.394 249.656 261.125 30.9 6.0 4.6

Motor vehicle insurance(1)


Medical care

697.383   698.880 0.1 0.2  


115.031   116.623 -5.3 1.4  

Education and communication(5)

174.023   173.280 1.4 -0.4  

Tuition, other fees, and child care(1)

1,422.544   1,424.214 1.9 0.1  

Other goods and services

522.085   522.728 1.7 0.1  

Commodity and service group


198.613   202.069 6.1 1.7  

Commodities less food and beverages

153.780   157.457 9.9 2.4  

Nondurables less food and beverages

194.499   198.430 11.8 2.0  


113.445   116.681 7.6 2.9  


370.922   372.461 1.9 0.4  

Special aggregate indexes

All items less shelter

263.333   265.827 4.3 0.9  

All items less medical care

273.706   276.152 3.5 0.9  

Commodities less food

158.251   161.844 9.6 2.3  


239.316   242.577 5.6 1.4  

Nondurables less food

198.855   202.531 11.0 1.8  

Services less rent of shelter(3)

399.915   400.335 2.3 0.1  

Services less medical care services

347.119   348.836 2.1 0.5  


250.570 254.126 245.456 23.4 -2.0 -3.4

All items less energy

297.059   300.114 2.1 1.0  

All items less food and energy

299.469   302.595 2.3 1.0  

(1) Indexes on a January 1978=100 base.
(2) This index series was calculated using a Laspeyres estimator. All other item stratum index series were calculated using a geometric means estimator.
(3) Indexes on a November 1982=100 base.
(4) This index series underwent a change in composition in January 2010. The expenditure class now includes weight from secondary residences, and has been re-titled "Owners' equivalent rent of residences." The item stratum "Owners' equivalent rent of primary residence" excludes secondary residences.
(5) Indexes on a December 1997=100 base.
(6) Special index based on a substantially smaller sample.
(7) Indexes on a December 1993=100 base.

Note: Index applies to a month as a whole, not to any specific date.


Last Modified Date: Friday, June 11, 2021