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19-981-BOS
Wednesday, June 12, 2019

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Consumer Price Index, Boston-Cambridge-Newton — May 2019

Area prices up 0.2 percent over two months; up 2.3 percent from a year ago

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) in the Boston-Cambridge-Newton area increased 0.2 percent in May, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.  Regional Commissioner Deborah A. Brown noted that this was mainly attributable to higher prices within all items less food and energy, up 0.4 percent, and to a lesser extent higher energy prices, up 0.4 percent. Lower food prices, down 1.1 percent, partially offset the increase. (Data in this report are not seasonally adjusted. Accordingly, bimonthly changes may reflect the impact of seasonal influences.)

Over the last 12 months, the Boston CPI-U rose 2.3 percent. The increase was largely attributable to higher prices within all items less food and energy up 2.5 percent.(See chart 1.)

Food

Food prices decreased 1.1 percent since March, mainly due to lower food at home prices, down 1.6 percent. Lower food at home prices were mainly driven by lower prices for fruits and vegetables, and lower prices for cereals and bakery products down 5.4 percent and 3.7 percent respectively.

Food prices increased 1.6 percent over the year, mainly due to both higher food at home prices, up 1.3 percent, and food away from home prices, up 2.0 percent.

Energy

The energy index increased 0.4 percent over the two months, mainly driven by higher gasoline prices, up 12.9 percent, but, was mainly offset by lower prices in utility piped gas, down 19.1 percent. Lower electricity prices, down 4.0 percent, also partially offset the increase.

Energy prices were up 0.7 percent from a year ago, largely attributable to higher prices in utility piped gas, up 6.7 percent and electricity prices up 2.7 percent. Lower gasoline prices partially offset the increase.

All items less food and energy

The index for all items less food and energy increased from March (0.4 percent) mainly due to higher shelter costs, up 0.9 percent. Within shelter, higher local costs for owners’ equivalent rent of residences (0.7) percent, mainly contributed to the increase. To a lesser extent, higher costs for medical care, up 2.5 percent also contributed to the overall increase. Lower apparel costs, down 8.3 percent partially offset the increase.

Over the year, the index for all items less food and energy rose 2.5 percent, with higher shelter costs being the main driver of the increase, up 3.7 percent. Within shelter, higher costs for owners’ equivalent rent of residences, up 4.2 percent and to a lesser extent, higher rent of primary residence, up 3.1 percent led the increase. Higher medical care costs, up 4.0 percent, also contributed to the increase.

CPI-W

In May, the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) was 279.579. The CPI-W remained unchanged over two months and increased 2.2 percent over the year.

 

The July 2019 Consumer Price Index for Boston-Cambridge-Newton is scheduled to be released on Tuesday, August 13, 2019, at 8:30 a.m. (ET).


Technical Note

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 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
Historical
data
Mar.
2019
Apr.
2019
May
2019
May
2018
Mar.
2019
Apr.
2019

All items

280.393   280.937 2.3 0.2  

All items (1967 = 100)

814.971   816.552      

Food and beverages

269.784   267.579 1.6 -0.8  

Food

272.174   269.182 1.6 -1.1  

Food at home

256.923 250.364 252.739 1.3 -1.6 0.9

Cereal and bakery products

305.512   294.265 0.7 -3.7  

Meats, poultry, fish, and eggs

253.007   257.115 0.7 1.6  

Dairy and related products

282.610   288.302 6.9 2.0  

Fruits and vegetables

345.801   327.179 -0.8 -5.4  

Nonalcoholic beverages and beverage materials(1)

167.615   167.415 4.6 -0.1  

Other food at home

201.937   197.865 0.0 -2.0  

Food away from home

298.802   297.931 2.0 -0.3  

Alcoholic beverages

246.830   253.633 0.9 2.8  

Housing

291.327   291.877 3.4 0.2  

Shelter

343.857 346.426 346.860 3.7 0.9 0.1

Rent of primary residence(2)

357.517 358.421 358.833 3.1 0.4 0.1

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

366.543 367.758 369.195 4.2 0.7 0.4

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

366.543 367.758 369.195 4.2 0.7 0.4

Fuels and utilities

310.649   289.596 3.2 -6.8  

Household energy

263.764 263.896 243.529 3.0 -7.7 -7.7

Energy services(2)

277.637 277.640 251.696 3.9 -9.3 -9.3

Electricity(2)

315.864 315.864 303.198 2.7 -4.0 -4.0

Utility (piped) gas service(2)

204.689 204.696 165.557 6.7 -19.1 -19.1

Household furnishings and operations

125.649   128.072 0.8 1.9  

Apparel

147.799   135.571 -3.7 -8.3  

Transportation

193.368   199.182 0.2 3.0  

Private transportation

194.633   199.107 0.2 2.3  

New and used motor vehicles(5)

106.782   104.010 1.1 -2.6  

New Vehicles(1)

213.695   211.027 2.6 -1.2  

Used cars and trucks(1)

320.169   317.849 0.2 -0.7  

Motor fuel

218.685 233.149 246.923 -2.0 12.9 5.9

Gasoline (all types)

216.142 230.466 244.108 -2.0 12.9 5.9

Gasoline, unleaded regular(6)

209.413 223.865 237.526 -2.1 13.4 6.1

Gasoline, unleaded midgrade(6)(7)

229.853 242.043 254.226 -1.7 10.6 5.0

Gasoline, unleaded premium(6)

228.895 239.616 250.688 -1.6 9.5 4.6

Motor vehicle insurance(1)

           

Medical care

659.055   675.683 4.0 2.5  

Recreation(5)

124.667   123.545 2.8 -0.9  

Education and communication(5)

165.389   164.903 0.0 -0.3  

Tuition, other fees, and child care(1)

1,348.743   1,349.187 2.4 0.0  

Other goods and services

500.318   499.710 2.7 -0.1  

Commodity and service group

Commodities

193.728   193.773 0.1 0.0  

Commodities less food and beverages

154.171   155.233 -1.0 0.7  

Nondurables less food and beverages

203.181   205.434 -1.4 1.1  

Durables

107.571   107.602 -0.4 0.0  

Services

358.681   359.654 3.3 0.3  

Special aggregate indexes

All items less shelter

257.866   257.238 1.4 -0.2  

All items less medical care

265.754   265.811 2.2 0.0  

Commodities less food

157.932   159.198 -0.9 0.8  

Nondurables

235.565   235.617 0.2 0.0  

Nondurables less food

205.393   207.964 -1.2 1.3  

Services less rent of shelter(3)

393.382   391.216 2.7 -0.6  

Services less medical care services

337.226   337.287 3.1 0.0  

Energy

242.276 248.631 243.239 0.7 0.4 -2.2

All items less energy

287.967   288.482 2.4 0.2  

All items less food and energy

291.556   292.670 2.5 0.4  

Footnotes
(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: Wednesday, June 12, 2019