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Washington-Baltimore Area Consumer Price Index – January 2010 (PDF)

Largest Advance in Transportation Prices in Over Four Years

Retail prices in the Washington-Baltimore area, as measured by the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U), edged up 0.3 percent from November to January following a 0.2-percent decline in the previous bimonthly period, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Sheila Watkins, the Bureau’s regional commissioner, noted that while higher prices for transportation and medical care led the recent advance, most major categories recorded increases over the last two months. Prices were lower in only the apparel and recreation categories. (See chart 1.) The January level of 141.124 (November 1996 = 100) was 2.6 percent higher than in January 2009. Over the same period, the core inflation rate, as measured by the all items less food and energy index, rose 1.8 percent. (See table 1.)

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

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

Chart Data

The transportation index rose 1.0 percent from November to January, led by higher prices for gasoline and used cars and trucks. Gasoline prices increased 2.2 percent since November and jumped 54.5 percent over the last 12 months. The overall transportation index advanced 15.7 percent since last January. The recent over-the-year increases in both the gasoline and transportation indexes were the largest since September 2005.

Dominated by higher prices for physicians’ services, the medical care index rose 2.4 percent over the last two months. Since January 2009, the medical care index advanced 3.3 percent.

Education and communication prices increased 0.6 percent since November due in part to an advance in college tuition and fees. The education and communication index rose 2.9 percent over the year.

The housing index inched up 0.1 percent from November to January as higher prices for fuels and utilities and shelter were moderated by lower prices for household furnishings and operations. Prices for fuels and utilities increased 0.8 percent over the last two months, led by higher water and sewerage maintenance prices. Utility (piped) gas service prices rose 1.8 percent since November, while electricity prices fell 0.4 percent. Over the year, these two indexes declined 16.2 and 1.6 percent, respectively. The overall fuels and utilities index decreased 3.1 percent since last January. Due largely to higher prices for rent of primary residence, the shelter index inched up 0.1 percent over the last two months. The shelter index was 1.0 percent higher than a year ago. Prices for household furnishings and operations, the third component of the housing index, decreased 0.7 percent over the last two months and 0.8 percent over the year. Since January 2009, the housing index increased 0.4 percent.

The food and beverages index inched up 0.1 percent over the last two months as higher prices for food away from home more than offset lower prices for food at home and alcoholic beverages. Food away from home prices increased 1.3 percent since November, led by higher prices for limited service meals and snacks. Over the year, prices for food away from home rose 1.9 percent. Prices fell from November to January for both food at home (-0.9 percent) and alcoholic beverages (-0.7 percent). Since last January, prices for food at home fell 2.1 percent, while those for alcoholic beverages increased 0.7 percent. The overall food and beverages index inched down 0.1 percent from its year-ago level.

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 0.4 percent since November. Over the last 12 months, the other goods and services index advanced 5.1 percent.

The remaining indexes had lower prices from November to January. Apparel prices fell 2.2 percent over the last two months; the recent seasonal decrease was smaller than the 4.1-percent average November-January decline during the last five years. Over the last 12 months, apparel prices were down 2.2 percent.

Following three consecutive bimonthly advances, the recreation index edged down 0.2 percent since November. Over the year, recreation prices increased 0.4 percent.

The energy index, which reflects prices for gasoline and household fuels, increased 1.3 percent since November. Higher prices for gasoline (2.2 percent) dominated the recent advance; prices were also higher for utility (piped) gas service (1.8 percent) and fuel oil. Lower electricity prices (-0.4 percent) helped to moderate the two-month increase in the energy index. Over the year, energy prices jumped 16.0 percent.

A 0.3-percent advance in prices for services led the two-month increase in the overall local index. Since last January, services prices increased 1.5 percent. The commodities index rose 0.2 percent since November and advanced 4.6 percent over the last 12 months.

The CPI-U for the Washington-Baltimore area stood at 141.124 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 $141.12 in January.

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

All items

100.000

Food and beverages

14.378

Food

13.205

Food at home

7.037

Food away from home

6.174

Alcoholic beverages

1.173

Housing

45.383

Shelter

36.603

Rent of primary residence

6.066

Owners' equivalent rent of residences

29.416

Owners' equivalent rent of primary residence

28.000

Fuels and utilities

4.486

Household energy

3.807

Gas (piped) and electricity

3.629

Electricity

2.959

Utility (piped) gas service

0.670

Household furnishings and operations

4.289

Apparel

3.594

Transportation

15.107

Private transportation

13.624

Motor fuel

3.923

Gasoline

3.807

Medical care

5.492

Recreation

5.710

Education and communication

7.047

Other goods and services

3.288
Commodity and service group

Commodities

36.347

Commodities less food and beverages

21.965

Nondurables less food and beverages

13.199

Durables

8.764

Services

63.659
Special aggregate indexes

All items less medical care

94.507

All items less shelter

63.400

Commodities less food

23.137

Nondurables

27.578

Nondurables less food

14.371

Services less rent of shelter

27.395

Services less medical care services

59.368

Energy

7.729

All items less energy

92.265

All items less food and energy

79.062
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-
Nov. 2009 Dec. 2009 Jan. 2010 Jan. 2009 Nov. 2009 Dec. 2009

All items (1)

140.718 - 141.124 2.6 0.3 -

Food and beverages (1)

139.445 - 139.579 -0.1 0.1 -

Food (1)

140.521 - 140.757 -0.2 0.2 -

Food at home

135.677 132.918 134.477 -2.1 -0.9 1.2

Food away from home (2)

143.935 - 145.778 1.9 1.3 -

Alcoholic beverages (2)

123.039 - 122.175 0.7 -0.7 -

Housing (1)

151.131 - 151.224 0.4 0.1 -

Shelter

155.796 155.521 155.895 1.0 0.1 0.2

Rent of primary residence (1) (3)

169.718 170.660 170.786 2.5 0.6 0.1

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

156.481 156.267 156.492 1.7 0.0 0.1

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

156.481 156.267 156.497 1.7 0.0 0.1

Fuels and utilities

182.861 - 184.353 -3.1 0.8 -

Household energy

186.385 184.428 187.028 -4.6 0.3 1.4

Gas (piped) and electricity (3)

181.025 178.949 180.976 -4.8 0.0 1.1

Electricity (3)

186.971 186.323 186.163 -1.6 -0.4 -0.1

Utility (piped) gas service (3)

141.191 134.581 143.673 -16.2 1.8 6.8

Household furnishings and operations

99.777 - 99.124 -0.8 -0.7 -

Apparel (1)

91.123 - 89.147 -2.2 -2.2 -

Transportation (1)

132.639 - 133.987 15.7 1.0 -

Private transportation

132.542 - 134.276 17.2 1.3 -

Motor fuel

220.126 217.413 225.022 54.2 2.2 3.5

Gasoline (all types)

220.122 217.397 225.039 54.5 2.2 3.5

Gasoline, unleaded regular (5)

223.006 220.128 228.366 56.8 2.4 3.7

Gasoline, unleaded midgrade (5)

219.087 216.556 223.303 50.9 1.9 3.1

Gasoline, unleaded premium (5)

219.479 217.010 223.358 48.5 1.8 2.9

Medical care (1)

143.507 - 146.888 3.3 2.4 -

Recreation

117.913 - 117.644 0.4 -0.2 -

Education and communication

134.204 - 134.992 2.9 0.6 -

Other goods and services (1)

166.181 - 166.872 5.1 0.4 -
Commodity and service group

Commodities

122.061 - 122.339 4.6 0.2 -

Commodities less food and beverages

112.193 - 112.569 8.1 0.3 -

Nondurables less food and beverages

135.907 - 136.617 12.7 0.5 -

Durables

86.307 - 86.372 1.4 0.1 -

Services

153.021 - 153.501 1.5 0.3 -
Special aggregate indexes

All items less medical care (1)

140.515 - 140.753 2.5 0.2 -

All items less shelter

133.080 - 133.629 3.6 0.4 -

Commodities less food

112.784 - 113.103 7.7 0.3 -

Nondurables

137.102 - 137.504 5.5 0.3 -

Nondurables less food

134.932 - 135.503 11.6 0.4 -

Services less rent of shelter

150.699 - 151.676 2.4 0.6 -

Services less medical care services

153.828 - 154.049 1.4 0.1 -

Energy (1)

197.856 195.612 200.443 16.0 1.3 2.5

All items less energy

136.189 - 136.473 1.5 0.2 -

All items less food and energy (1)

136.370 - 136.661 1.8 0.2 -

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) 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 residences" excludes secondary residences.
(5) 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: June 9, 2010

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