News Release Information
Wednesday, April 10, 2019
Consumer Price Index, Washington-Arlington-Alexandria – March 2019
Area prices up 0.7 percent since January, 1.6 percent over the year
The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) for Washington-Arlington-Alexandria increased 0.7 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 increase was due mostly to a 0.5-percent rise in the all items less food and energy index. The energy index and the food index also increased since January, up 4.7 and 0.5 percent, respectively. (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 1.6 percent, primarily reflecting a 1.5-percent increase in the all items less food and energy index. (See chart 1 and table A.) Since March 2018, the food index and the energy index also advanced, up 2.6 and 1.2 percent, respectively. (See table 1.)
After a 1.6-percent increase from November to January, the food index rose 0.5 percent over the last two months. Prices for food away from home were up 0.8 percent, and those for food at home edged up 0.3 percent since January. Within the food at home component, higher prices for items such fresh fish and seafood and bread were moderated by lower prices for carbonated drinks and frozen and freeze dried prepared foods.
Food prices increased 2.6 percent over the year. Prices were higher for both food at home (2.9 percent) and food away from home (2.3 percent) since March 2018.
Since January, the energy index, which includes prices for household and transportation fuels, advanced 4.7 percent, due mainly to an 8.3-percent increase in gasoline prices. Prices were also higher for electricity (1.9 percent), and unchanged for utility (piped) gas service over the past two months.
Energy prices rose 1.2 percent since March 2018. Increases in both utility (piped) gas service prices (10.6 percent) and electricity prices (2.2 percent) were moderated by lower prices for gasoline (-1.5 percent).
All items less food and energy
The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.5 percent since January. An increase in prices for shelter (0.6 percent), particularly those for lodging away from home, led the increase in the all items less food and energy index. Prices were also higher for medical care (1.0 percent) and household furnishings and operations (1.2 percent), among others.
Since March 2018, the index for all items less food and energy rose 1.5 percent. The advance was led by higher prices for shelter (1.7 percent); household furnishings and operations (7.1 percent) and recreation (3.9 percent) were among the other indexes that had increases over the year. Education and communication prices were down 2.8 percent since March 2018.
The Consumer Price Index for May 2019 is scheduled to be released on Wednesday, June 12, 2019, at 8:30 a.m. (EDT).
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.
|Expenditure category||Indexes||Percent change from|
Food and beverages
Food at home
Cereals 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
Owners' equivalent rent of residences(2)
Owners' equivalent rent of primary residence(2)
Fuels and utilities
Utility (piped) gas service
Household furnishings and operations
New and used motor vehicles(3)
Used cars and trucks(1)
Gasoline (all types)
Gasoline, unleaded regular(4)
Gasoline, unleaded premium(4)
Motor vehicle insurance(1)
Education and communication(3)
Tuition, other school 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(2)
Services less medical care services
All items less energy
All items less food and energy
Last Modified Date: Wednesday, April 10, 2019