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For release: Thursday, March 18, 2010 PLS - 4642
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Philadelphia Area Consumer Price Index – February 2010 (PDF)

Second Consecutive Over-the-Year Increase in Retail Prices

Retail prices in the Philadelphia area, as measured by the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U), rose 0.8 percent from December to February after no change in the previous two-month period, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Sheila Watkins, the Bureau’s regional commissioner, noted that while the recent advance was led by increases in the housing and apparel indexes, six of the eight major categories that comprise the CPI had higher prices over the last two months. (See chart 1.) The February level of 226.529 (1982-84 = 100) was 2.8 percent higher than in February 2009. Over the same period, the core inflation rate, as measured by the all items less food and energy index, rose 2.3 percent. (See table 1.)

Chart 1. 2-month and 12-month percent changes ended February 2010 for the major categories of the CPI-U for the Philadelphia area, not seasonally adjusted

2-month and 12-month percent changes ended February 2010 for the major categories of the CPI-U for the Philadelphia area, not seasonally adjusted

Chart Data

The housing index rose 0.5 percent from December to February, reflecting higher prices for both shelter and fuels and utilities. Shelter prices advanced 0.6 percent over the last two months, as an increase in the owners’ equivalent rent of residences index (0.5 percent) more than offset a decrease in the rent of primary residence index (-0.2 percent). Since last February, these two components rose 3.8 and 1.2 percent, respectively. The shelter index advanced 2.7 percent over the year. Prices for fuels and utilities rose 1.9 percent from December to February. Electricity prices increased 2.4 percent over the last two months and utility (piped) gas service prices edged up 0.2 percent. Over the year, electricity prices advanced 2.0 percent, while those for utility gas service dropped 15.8 percent. The overall fuels and utilities index rose 0.4 percent since last February. Moderating the two-month advance in the housing index, prices for household furnishings and operations fell 2.1 percent since December to a level 5.7 percent lower than a year ago. The overall housing index increased 1.6 percent over the year.

Following a 7.4-percent seasonal decline from October to December, apparel prices rose 5.9 percent over the last two months. Since February 2009, apparel prices increased 2.0 percent.

The education and communication index advanced 2.1 percent since December, due almost entirely to higher prices for internet services and electronic information providers. Over the year, the education and communication index increased 1.6 percent.

Following three consecutive bimonthly periods of decline totaling 1.5 percent, medical care prices rose 1.9 percent from December to February. The medical care index advanced 0.9 percent from its year-ago level.

The transportation index increased for the seventh consecutive bimonthly period, up 13.3 percent since December 2008 and 0.7 percent over the last two months. The recent advance was due largely to higher prices for gasoline, which rose 1.8 percent since December to a level 35.9 percent higher than last year. Also contributing to the recent two-month rise in the transportation index were higher prices for used cars and trucks and airline fare. Since February 2009, transportation prices advanced 12.0 percent.

The food and beverages index edged up 0.2 percent since December. Prices were higher for both food at home (0.4 percent) and food away from home (0.3 percent) over the last two months. Since last February, prices for food at home fell 0.4 percent but those for food away from home rose 1.4 percent. Moderating the two-month advance in the food and beverages index were lower prices for alcoholic beverages, down 2.0 percent—the largest bimonthly decline since June 1995. Alcoholic beverages prices decreased 0.3 percent since last February. The overall food and beverages index was 0.3 percent higher over the year.

The remaining categories had lower prices from December to February. The other goods and services index, which includes tobacco and smoking products, personal care products, personal care services, and miscellaneous personal services such as legal, funeral, and laundry and dry cleaning services, fell 0.6 percent over the last two months but was 6.9 percent higher since last February.

Recreation prices edged down 0.3 percent since December. Over the year, recreation prices fell 2.2 percent—the largest 12-month decline since August 2002.

The energy index, which reflects prices for gasoline and household fuels, rose 2.1 percent from December to February, reflecting higher prices for electricity (2.4 percent), gasoline (1.8 percent), and utility (piped) gas service (0.2 percent). Energy prices advanced 11.5 percent over the last 12 months.

The two-month increase in the CPI was due mainly to a 0.9-percent advance in the services index. The commodities index was also higher since December, up 0.5 percent. Since last February, services prices rose 2.1 percent and commodities prices, 4.1 percent.

The Philadelphia-Wilmington-Atlantic City, Pa.-N.J.-Del.-Md., Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Area (CMSA), includes Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties in Pennsylvania; Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem Counties in New Jersey; New Castle County in Delaware; and Cecil County in Maryland.

The relative importance of a component of the CPI is its expenditure or value weight expressed as a percentage of all items within an area. Relative importance ratios show approximately how the index population distributes expenditures when the value weights are collected and represent an estimate of how consumers would distribute their expenditures as prices change over time. Relative importance ratios cannot be used as estimates of current spending patterns or as indicators of changing consumer expenditures in the intervals between weight revisions because consumption patterns are influenced by factors—including income, variations in climate, family size, and availability of new and different kinds of goods and services—other than price change. (See table A.)

Table A (2007-2008 weights). Relative Importance of components in the Consumer Price Index: Philadelphia area, December 2009
Item and group CPI-U
Expenditure category

All items

100.000

Food and beverages

12.276

Food

11.363

Food at home

6.451

Food away from home

4.911

Alcoholic beverages

0.913

Housing

46.115

Shelter

35.361

Rent of primary residence

5.211

Owners' equivalent rent of residences

28.950

Owners' equivalent rent of primary residence

26.883

Fuels and utilities

5.980

Household energy

4.858

Gas (piped) and electricity

4.332

Electricity

3.088

Utility (piped) gas service

1.244

Household furnishings and operations

4.774

Apparel

3.355

Transportation

14.984

Private transportation

13.682

Motor fuel

4.058

Gasoline

3.994

Medical care

5.552

Recreation

6.459

Education and communication

7.764

Other goods and services

3.496
Commodity and service group

Commodities

34.565

Commodities less food and beverages

22.290

Nondurables less food and beverages

14.107

Durables

8.183

Services

65.435
Special aggregate indexes

All items less medical care

94.448

All items less shelter

64.639

Commodities less food

23.203

Nondurables

26.383

Nondurables less food

15.020

Services less rent of shelter

30.376

Services less medical care services

61.385

Energy

8.916

All items less energy

91.084

All items less food and energy

79.721
Table 1. Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U): Indexes and percent changes for selected periods, Philadelphia-Wilmington-Atlantic City, Pa.-N.J.-Del.-Md. (1982-84=100 unless otherwise noted)
Expenditure category Indexes Percent change from-
Dec. 2009 Jan. 2010 Feb. 2010 Feb. 2009 Dec. 2009 Jan. 2010

All items

224.800 - 226.529 2.8 0.8 -

Food and beverages

207.409 - 207.753 0.3 0.2 -

Food

206.957 - 207.668 0.4 0.3 -

Food at home

216.613 217.947 217.509 -0.4 0.4 -0.2

Food away from home

188.726 - 189.199 1.4 0.3 -

Alcoholic beverages

210.841 - 206.532 -0.3 -2.0 -

Housing

233.022 - 234.104 1.6 0.5 -

Shelter

279.397 279.888 280.970 2.7 0.6 0.4

Rent of primary residence (1)

260.704 261.240 260.230 1.2 -0.2 -0.4

Owners' equivalent rent of residences (1) (2) (3)

288.159 288.312 289.627 3.8 0.5 0.5

Owners' equivalent rent of primary residence (1) (2) (3)

288.159 288.312 289.627 3.8 0.5 0.5

Fuels and utilities

206.840 - 210.871 0.4 1.9 -

Household energy

184.144 188.682 188.384 -0.9 2.3 -0.2

Gas (piped) and electricity (1)

198.707 201.802 202.161 -3.8 1.7 0.2

Electricity (1)

195.996 200.077 200.614 2.0 2.4 0.3

Utility (piped) gas service (1)

200.725 201.235 201.134 -15.8 0.2 -0.1

Household furnishings and operations

122.741 - 120.133 -5.7 -2.1 -

Apparel

99.718 - 105.611 2.0 5.9 -

Transportation

190.137 - 191.487 12.0 0.7 -

Private transportation

188.373 - 189.500 12.7 0.6 -

Motor fuel

231.097 240.742 235.175 34.4 1.8 -2.3

Gasoline (all types)

227.830 237.324 231.842 35.9 1.8 -2.3

Gasoline, unleaded regular (4)

227.240 237.281 231.414 37.2 1.8 -2.5

Gasoline, unleaded midgrade (4) (5)

224.634 231.881 228.464 33.5 1.7 -1.5

Gasoline, unleaded premium (4)

219.139 225.773 221.680 32.5 1.2 -1.8

Medical care

420.002 - 428.144 0.9 1.9 -

Recreation (6)

120.653 - 120.299 -2.2 -0.3 -

Education and communication (6)

127.426 - 130.085 1.6 2.1 -

Other goods and services

422.047 - 419.535 6.9 -0.6 -
Commodity and service group

Commodities

168.407 - 169.317 4.1 0.5 -

Commodities less food and beverages

145.638 - 146.726 6.6 0.7 -

Nondurables less food and beverages

175.809 - 178.648 10.2 1.6 -

Durables

112.005 - 111.167 0.9 -0.7 -

Services

283.015 - 285.533 2.1 0.9 -
Special aggregate indexes

All items less medical care

216.450 - 217.966 3.0 0.7 -

All items less shelter

207.669 - 209.501 2.9 0.9 -

Commodities less food

148.039 - 148.983 6.3 0.6 -

Nondurables

192.636 - 194.448 5.2 0.9 -

Nondurables less food

177.777 - 180.253 9.5 1.4 -

Services less rent of shelter (2)

293.274 - 297.022 1.2 1.3 -

Services less medical care services

271.738 - 273.994 2.2 0.8 -

Energy

200.370 206.866 204.493 11.5 2.1 -1.1

All items less energy

229.185 - 230.658 2.0 0.6 -

All items less food and energy

235.328 - 236.942 2.3 0.7 -

Footnotes
(1) This index series was calculated using a Laspeyres estimator. All other item stratum index series were calculated using a geometric means estimator.
(2) Indexes on a December 1982=100 base.
(3) 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.
(4) Special index based on a substantially smaller sample.
(5) Indexes on a December 1993=100 base.
(6) Indexes on a December 1997=100 base.
- Data not available.
NOTE: Index applies to a month as a whole, not to any specific date.

Last Modified Date: March 19, 2010

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