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For Release: Thursday, October 15, 2009 PLS - 4586
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Washington-Baltimore Area Consumer Price Index: SEPTEMBER 2009 (PDF)

Fourth Consecutive Two-Month Increase in Retail Prices

Retail prices in the Washington-Baltimore area, as measured by the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U), inched up 0.1 percent from July to September, the fourth consecutive bimonthly increase, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. Sheila Watkins, the Bureau’s regional commissioner, noted that the recent advances in most of the major categories, led by education and communication and apparel, were nearly offset by a decline in the housing index. The transportation index was unchanged since July. (See chart A.) The September level of 140.945 (November 1996 = 100) was 0.8 percent lower than in September 2008. Over the same period, the core inflation rate, as measured by the all items less food and energy index, rose 1.3 percent. (See table 1.)

Chart A. 2-month and 12-month percent changes ended September 2009 for the major categories of the CPI-U for the Washington-Baltimore area, not seasonally adjusted

2-month and 12-month percent changes ended September 2009 for the major categories of the CPI-U for the Washington-Baltimore area, not seasonally adjusted

Chart Data

Education and communication prices rose 1.7 percent since July, following normal seasonal patterns. Higher prices for child care and nursery school were partially responsible for the two-month increase. Over the year, the education and communication index rose 1.8 percent.

Apparel prices increased as they typically do from July to September, up 3.3 percent. The recent advance, led by higher prices for women’s outerwear and girls’ apparel, was below the average July-September increase of 11.5 percent over the last five years. Since September 2008, apparel prices fell 0.8 percent.

The recreation index rose 0.9 percent from July to September. Over the last 12 months, the recreation index edged up 0.2 percent.

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) increased 1.2 percent over the last two months. Since last September, the other goods and services index advanced 4.7 percent.

The food and beverages index edged up 0.2 percent since July due mainly to a 1.7-percent increase in prices for alcoholic beverages. Prices for food at home and food away from home were little changed over the last two months, both inching up 0.1 percent. Over the year, the alcoholic beverages index advanced 2.5 percent and the food away from home index rose 1.0 percent. The food at home index fell 1.4 percent since last September—the largest 12-month decline since the inception of this index in December 1997. The overall food and beverages index was unchanged from its year-ago level.

The medical care index rose 0.4 percent over the last two months. Medical care prices were 1.5 percent higher in September than a year ago.

The transportation index was unchanged from July to September. Higher prices for a number of items including used cars and trucks were offset by lower prices for gasoline, among other items. Gasoline prices fell 1.4 percent following three consecutive bimonthly advances totaling 44.7 percent. Over the year, gasoline prices were 30.7 percent lower due to steep declines in late 2008. The overall transportation index fell 10.3 percent since last September.

The housing index was the only major category of the CPI-U to record lower prices from July to September, down 0.6 percent. The recent decline was due largely to a decrease in prices for shelter, particularly other lodging away from home, including hotels and motels. The shelter index fell 0.6 percent since July but rose 1.6 percent since last September. Prices for household furnishings and operations decreased 2.1 percent over the last two months and 2.5 percent over the year. Prices for fuels and utilities, the third component of the housing index, rose 0.6 percent reflecting a 1.1-percent increase in electricity prices. Over the year, electricity prices were 4.5 percent higher. Lower prices for utility (piped) gas service helped to moderate the advance in fuels and utilities prices, declining 1.7 percent since July and 24.5 percent since last September. Overall fuels and utilities prices fell 2.1 percent from their year-ago levels. Over the last 12 months, the housing index increased 0.8 percent.

The energy index, which reflects prices for gasoline and household fuels, decreased 0.2 percent from July to September as lower prices for gasoline (-1.4 percent) and utility (piped) gas service (-1.7 percent) were partially offset by higher electricity prices (1.1 percent). Over the year, energy prices dropped 17.2 percent.

The recent two-month increase in the overall local index came from rising commodities prices, up 0.3 percent since July but 4.7 percent lower than last year. The services index was unchanged over the last two months but rose 1.4 percent since last September.

The CPI-U for the Washington-Baltimore area stood at 140.945 on the November 1996=100 reference base, which means that a market basket of goods and services that averaged $100.00 in November 1996 would have cost $140.95 in September.

The Washington-Baltimore, D.C.-Md.-Va.-W.Va., Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Area (CMSA) includes the District of Columbia; Baltimore City and the counties of Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Calvert, Carroll, Charles, Frederick, Harford, Howard, Montgomery, Prince George’s, Queen Anne’s, and Washington in Maryland; the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Fredericksburg, Manassas, and Manassas Park and the counties of Arlington, Clarke, Fairfax, Fauquier, King George, Loudoun, Prince William, Rappahannock, Spotsylvania, Stafford, and Warren in Virginia; and the counties of Berkeley and Jefferson in West Virginia.

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 (2005-2006 weights). Relative Importance of components in the Consumer Price Index: Washington-Baltimore area, December 2008
Item and group CPI-U
Expenditure category

All items

100.000

Food and beverages

14.284

Food

13.166

Food at home

6.807

Food away from home

6.359

Alcoholic beverages

1.118

Housing

48.599

Shelter

39.000

Rent of primary residence

6.474

Owners' equivalent rent of primary residence

29.560

Fuels and utilities

5.514

Household energy

4.836

Gas (piped) and electricity

4.649

Electricity

3.668

Utility (piped) gas service

0.981

Household furnishings and operations

4.085

Apparel

3.878

Transportation

12.569

Private transportation

11.317

Motor fuel

3.206

Gasoline

3.184

Medical care

5.015

Recreation

5.194

Education and communication

7.465

Other goods and services

2.996
Commodity and service group

Commodities

34.255

Commodities less food and beverages

19.971

Non durables less food and beverages

12.157

Durables

7.815

Services

65.745
Special aggregate indexes

All items less medical care

94.985

All items less shelter

61.000

Commodities less food

21.090

Nondurables

26.440

Nondurables less food

13.275

Services less rent of shelter

27.133

Services less medical care services

61.938

Energy

8.042

All items less energy

91.958

All items less food and energy

78.793
Table 1. Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U): Indexes and percent changes for selected periods, Washington-Baltimore, D.C.-Md.-Va.-W.Va. (December 1997=100 unless otherwise noted)
Expenditure category Indexes Percent change from-
July 2009 Aug. 2009 Sep. 2009 Sep. 2008 July 2009 Aug. 2009

All items (1)

140.810 - 140.945 -0.8 0.1 -

Food and beverages (1)

139.053 - 139.358 0.0 0.2 -

Food (1)

140.368 - 140.500 -0.2 0.1 -

Food at home

135.620 135.750 135.797 -1.4 0.1 0.0

Food away from home (2)

143.677 - 143.757 1.0 0.1 -

Alcoholic beverages (2)

120.290 - 122.301 2.5 1.7 -

Housing (1)

153.811 - 152.940 0.8 -0.6 -

Shelter

157.717 158.219 156.814 1.6 -0.6 -0.9

Rent of primary residence (1) (3)

169.847 170.457 169.845 3.2 0.0 -0.4

Owners' equivalent rent of primary residence (3)

157.018 157.581 156.738 2.3 -0.2 -0.5

Fuels and utilities

192.467 - 193.637 -2.1 0.6 -

Household energy

197.643 196.956 199.115 -2.9 0.7 1.1

Gas (piped) and electricity (3)

192.888 192.049 194.185 -1.6 0.7 1.1

Electricity (3)

204.075 203.473 206.394 4.5 1.1 1.4

Utility (piped) gas service (3)

134.252 132.714 131.995 -24.5 -1.7 -0.5

Household furnishings and operations

102.268 - 100.150 -2.5 -2.1 -

Apparel (1)

92.141 - 95.201 -0.8 3.3 -

Transportation (1)

127.954 - 127.967 -10.3 0.0 -

Private transportation

127.289 - 127.528 -10.6 0.2 -

Motor fuel

210.631 212.310 207.798 -30.8 -1.3 -2.1

Gasoline (all types)

210.678 212.336 207.816 -30.7 -1.4 -2.1

Gasoline, unleaded regular (4)

212.963 215.144 210.327 -31.1 -1.2 -2.2

Gasoline, unleaded midgrade (4)

210.082 211.336 207.248 -30.1 -1.3 -1.9

Gasoline, unleaded premium (4)

211.101 211.611 207.478 -29.3 -1.7 -2.0

Medical care (1)

142.419 - 142.945 1.5 0.4 -

Recreation

116.684 - 117.676 0.2 0.9 -

Education and communication

131.453 - 133.683 1.8 1.7 -

Other goods and services (1)

162.703 - 164.648 4.7 1.2 -
Commodity and service group

Commodities

121.043 - 121.369 -4.7 0.3 -

Commodities less food and beverages

110.824 - 111.162 -7.8 0.3 -

Nondurables less food and beverages

134.424 - 134.928 -11.6 0.4 -

Durables

85.077 - 85.242 -0.9 0.2 -

Services

153.839 - 153.850 1.4 0.0 -
Special aggregate indexes

All items less medical care (1)

140.667 - 140.783 -0.9 0.1 -

All items less shelter

132.176 - 132.877 -2.2 0.5 -

Commodities less food

111.347 - 111.767 -7.3 0.4 -

Nondurables

136.196 - 136.594 -5.8 0.3 -

Nondurables less food

133.330 - 133.973 -10.6 0.5 -

Services less rent of shelter

149.949 - 151.261 1.1 0.9 -

Services less medical care services

154.752 - 154.752 1.4 0.0 -

Energy (1)

200.414 200.711 200.093 -17.2 -0.2 -0.3

All items less energy

136.125 - 136.288 1.1 0.1 -

All items less food and energy (1)

136.320 - 136.489 1.3 0.1 -

Footnotes
(1) For Washington-Baltimore, indexes on a November 1996=100 base.
(2) For Washington-Baltimore, indexes on a November 1997=100 base.
(3) This index series was calculated using a Laspeyres estimator. All other item stratum index series were calculated using a geometric means estimator.
(4) Special index based on a substantially smaller sample.
- Data not available.
NOTE: Index applies to a month as a whole, not to any specific date.

Last Modified Date: October 16, 2009

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