Mid-Atlantic Information Office

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PLS-4832

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

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Consumer Price Index, Northeast Region – September 2011

Regional Prices 0.1 Percent Higher Over the Month; 4.0 Percent Higher Over the Year

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) in the Northeast region inched up 0.1 percent in September, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Sheila Watkins, the Bureau’s regional commissioner, noted that over-the-month increases in both the all items less food and energy index (0.2 percent) and the food index (0.4 percent) were nearly offset by a 0.6-percent decrease in the energy index. (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 increased 4.0 percent—the largest over-the-year advance since October 2008. (See chart 1 and table A.) The all items less food and energy index and the energy index both rose over the year, up 2.2 and 19.6 percent, respectively. Also contributing to the recent advance in the all items index were higher prices for food, which rose 4.6 percent since September 2010. (See table 1.)

Chart 1. 12-month percent change in CPI for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U), Northeast region, September 2008 to September 2011 (not seasonally adjusted)

Food

The food index rose 0.4 percent in September, following an identical increase in August. Prices for food at home advanced for the fifth straight month, up 3.2 percent since April and 0.5 percent since August. Food away from home prices edged up 0.2 percent over the month.

Over the year, the food index rose 4.6 percent, the largest 12-month increase since February 2009. Prices for the food at home and food away from home components were up 5.8 and 2.9 percent, respectively, since last September.

Energy

The energy index, which includes prices for household and transportation fuels, fell 0.6 percent since August, due largely to a decline in the gasoline index, down 1.5 percent over the month and down 8.2 percent since its most recent peak in May. Lower utility (piped) gas service prices (-1.4 percent) also contributed to the overall decrease in September. Higher prices for electricity, up 1.3 percent since August, moderated the decline in the energy index.

Despite its recent decrease, the energy index advanced 19.6 percent over the year, mainly reflecting a 37.6-percent jump in gasoline prices since September 2010. After posting 8 consecutive 12-month decreases, electricity prices edged up 0.2 percent since last September. The utility (piped) gas service index posted its 11th straight over-the-year decline, down 3.0 percent.

All items less food and energy

Led by a seasonal increase in apparel prices (3.2 percent), the index for all items less food and energy edged up 0.2 percent since August. The one-month increase was moderated by price decreases in several categories, including a 0.8-percent decline in the recreation index.

Over the last 12 months, the index for all items less food and energy rose 2.2 percent, led by an increase in the shelter index, up 2.1 percent. Higher prices for new and used motor vehicles (3.7 percent) and medical care (3.4 percent) also contributed to the over-the-year advance in the all items less food and energy index.

The October 2011 Consumer Price Index for the Northeast region is scheduled to be released on November 16, 2011, at 8:30 a.m. (ET).

Table A. Northeast region CPI-U 1-month and 12-month percent changes, all items index (not seasonally adjusted)
Month 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
1-month 12-month 1-month 12-month 1-month 12-month 1-month 12-month 1-month 12-month 1-month 12-month

January

1.0 4.1 0.3 2.3 0.4 3.9 0.2 0.5 0.4 3.0 0.4 1.6

February

0.3 3.9 0.4 2.4 0.4 4.0 0.6 0.7 0.0 2.5 0.5 2.0

March

0.6 3.3 0.8 2.6 0.8 3.9 0.2 0.2 0.3 2.6 0.8 2.5

April

0.9 3.8 0.5 2.2 0.5 3.9 0.2 -0.1 0.2 2.5 0.5 2.8

May

0.5 4.6 0.5 2.3 0.9 4.3 0.1 -0.8 0.2 2.6 0.5 3.2

June

0.5 5.1 0.4 2.3 1.1 5.0 0.8 -1.2 -0.1 1.7 0.1 3.4

July

0.4 4.6 0.2 2.0 0.8 5.7 0.1 -1.9 0.0 1.6 0.2 3.6

August

0.3 4.5 -0.2 1.6 -0.3 5.5 0.3 -1.2 0.1 1.4 0.3 3.8

September

-0.8 2.6 -0.1 2.4 -0.4 5.2 0.1 -0.7 -0.1 1.2 0.1 4.0

October

-0.5 1.7 0.2 3.1 -0.9 4.0 0.0 0.2 0.3 1.5

November

-0.2 2.3 0.6 4.0 -1.6 1.7 0.2 2.0 0.2 1.5

December

0.2 3.0 0.0 3.8 -0.9 0.7 -0.1 2.8 0.0 1.6

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 87 percent of the total population and (2) a CPI for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) which covers 32 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 87 urban areas across the country from about 4,000 housing units and approximately 26,000 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/homch17_a.htm.

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 Northeast region is comprised of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

Information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: 202-691-5200; TDD message referral phone number: 1-800-877-8339.

For personal assistance or further information on Consumer Price Indexes, as well as other Bureau products, contact the Mid-Atlantic Information Office at (215) 597-3282 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. ET.