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20-289-BOS
Friday, February 14, 2020

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Consumer Price Index, Boston-Cambridge-Newton — January 2020

Area prices increased by 0.6 percent over two months; up 2.2 percent from a year ago

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) in the Boston-Cambridge-Newton area increased 0.6 percent in January, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.  Acting Regional Commissioner William J. Sibley noted that this was mainly attributable to higher shelter costs, up 0.7 percent, and, to a lesser extent, higher prices for food, up 1.5 percent. (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 2.2 percent.  The increase was largely attributable to higher shelter costs within all items less food and energy, up 3.2 percent, and, to a lesser extent, higher food and energy costs, up 1.7 and 0.6 percent, respectively.  (See chart 1.)

Food

Food prices increased 1.5 percent since November, mainly due to higher food at home or grocery store prices, up 1.3 percent.  Higher food away from home or restaurant prices, up 1.7 percent, also contributed to the increase.  Higher food at home prices were mainly driven by higher prices for the other food at home category, up 2.4 percent.

Food prices increased 1.7 percent over the year, mainly due to higher restaurant prices, up 2.7 percent.  Higher grocery store prices, up 1.1 percent, also contributed to the increase.  Higher food at home prices were mainly driven by higher prices for the other food at home category, up 2.7 percent.   

Energy

The energy index edged up 0.8 percent over the two months, mainly due to higher electricity prices, up 2.8 percent. 

Energy prices edged up 0.6 percent from a year ago, mainly due to higher gasoline prices, up 4.1 percent.  Lower prices for both utility (piped) gas, down 4.4 percent, and electricity, down 0.5 percent, partially offset this increase.

All items less food and energy

The index for all items less food and energy edged up from November (0.4 percent) mainly due to higher shelter costs, up 0.7 percent.  Within shelter, higher costs for owners’ equivalent rent of residences, up 1.2 percent, and to a lesser extent, higher costs of rent of primary residence, up 1.1 percent led the increase.  Also contributing to the overall increase were higher prices for new vehicles, up 7.2 percent.  Lower apparel costs, down 4.7 percent, partially offset the overall increase.

Over the year, the index for all items less food and energy rose 2.4 percent, with higher shelter costs being the main driver of the increase, up 3.2 percent.  Within shelter, higher costs for owners’ equivalent rent of residences, up 3.7 percent, and to a lesser extent, rent of primary residence, up 2.8 percent, led the increase.  Also contributing to the overall increase in prices within all items less food and energy were higher medical care costs, up 7.4 percent, and, to a lesser extent, higher costs within education and communication, up 3.7 percent.

CPI-W

In January, the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) was 284.382. The CPI-W increased 0.8 percent over two months and 2.3 percent over the year.

The March 2020 Consumer Price Index for Boston-Cambridge-Newton is scheduled to be released on Friday, April 10, 2020, 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
Nov.
2019
Dec.
2019
Jan.
2020
Jan.
2019
Nov.
2019
Dec.
2019

All items

283.526   285.181 2.2 0.6  

All items (1967 = 100)

824.078   828.885      

Food and beverages

268.345   272.010 1.7 1.4  

Food

269.785   273.800 1.7 1.5  

Food at home

251.768 255.142 255.070 1.1 1.3 0.0

Cereal and bakery products

301.156   298.315 -1.0 -0.9  

Meats, poultry, fish, and eggs

256.055   259.386 2.7 1.3  

Dairy and related products

284.327   284.306 -0.8 0.0  

Fruits and vegetables

319.517   325.557 0.3 1.9  

Nonalcoholic beverages and beverage materials(1)

162.868   166.393 0.6 2.2  

Other food at home

200.391   205.235 2.7 2.4  

Food away from home

301.331   306.598 2.7 1.7  

Alcoholic beverages

256.274   256.173 1.7 0.0  

Housing

297.126   299.489 2.8 0.8  

Shelter

352.412 350.481 355.029 3.2 0.7 1.3

Rent of primary residence(2)

364.041 365.705 368.015 2.8 1.1 0.6

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

374.641 376.453 379.229 3.7 1.2 0.7

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

374.641 376.453 379.229 3.7 1.2 0.7

Fuels and utilities

302.251   305.656 -1.3 1.1  

Household energy

255.453 255.474 258.711 -1.6 1.3 1.3

Energy services(2)

268.780 268.780 273.616 -1.8 1.8 1.8

Electricity(2)

304.177 304.177 312.677 -0.5 2.8 2.8

Utility (piped) gas service(2)

200.074 200.074 199.773 -4.4 -0.2 -0.2

Household furnishings and operations

129.152   130.559 3.1 1.1  

Apparel

135.676   129.316 -4.2 -4.7  

Transportation

190.692   192.241 0.0 0.8  

Private transportation

191.576   193.330 -0.1 0.9  

New and used motor vehicles(5)

102.885   105.369 -1.5 2.4  

New Vehicles(1)

205.236   220.052 1.9 7.2  

Used cars and trucks(1)

316.390   311.192 -2.1 -1.6  

Motor fuel

223.122 223.269 223.300 4.1 0.1 0.0

Gasoline (all types)

220.542 220.686 220.711 4.1 0.1 0.0

Gasoline, unleaded regular(6)

213.377 213.492 213.570 4.0 0.1 0.0

Gasoline, unleaded midgrade(6)(7)

237.105 237.678 236.923 4.2 -0.1 -0.3

Gasoline, unleaded premium(6)

235.471 235.738 235.483 4.8 0.0 -0.1

Motor vehicle insurance(1)

           

Medical care

701.424   703.603 7.4 0.3  

Recreation(5)

122.090   123.000 -1.2 0.7  

Education and communication(5)

171.341   170.780 3.7 -0.3  

Tuition, other fees, and child care(1)

1,394.215   1,398.308 3.7 0.3  

Other goods and services

504.393   512.043 2.8 1.5  

Commodity and service group

Commodities

191.527   192.467 0.8 0.5  

Commodities less food and beverages

151.686   151.395 0.0 -0.2  

Nondurables less food and beverages

198.167   195.641 -0.4 -1.3  

Durables

107.282   108.668 0.6 1.3  

Services

366.356   368.670 2.9 0.6  

Special aggregate indexes

All items less shelter

258.471   259.784 1.6 0.5  

All items less medical care

267.678   269.316 1.9 0.6  

Commodities less food

155.855   155.571 0.1 -0.2  

Nondurables

232.324   232.817 0.8 0.2  

Nondurables less food

201.444   199.108 -0.2 -1.2  

Services less rent of shelter(3)

399.799   401.880 2.4 0.5  

Services less medical care services

342.394   344.832 2.3 0.7  

Energy

239.561 239.637 241.489 0.6 0.8 0.8

All items less energy

291.668   293.324 2.3 0.6  

All items less food and energy

296.308   297.564 2.4 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: Friday, February 14, 2020