STATE

Consumer Price Index is up in Midwest region

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) in the Midwest was up 0.1 percent in November the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Regional Commissioner Charlene Peiffer noted that lower prices for food at home resulted in a decrease of 0.2 percent in food costs while higher motor fuel prices led to an increase of 0.8 percent in energy costs. Prices for all items less food and energy were unchanged due to offsetting movements within the index.

Over the last 12 months the CPI-U rose 1.2 percent. The energy index, which includes motor fuel and household fuels, was up 5.3 percent since last November and the index for food rose 1.3 percent. Excluding food and energy, the CPI-U increased 0.8 percent over the year.

Food

Food prices were 0.2 percent lower in November after registering little movement in the prior two months. Costs for food at home fell 0.4 percent, more than offsetting a 0.2 percent increase in prices for food away from home. From November 2009 to November 2010, the index for food increased 1.3 percent. Prices for food at home and food away from home both contributed to the annual increase, advancing 1.5 and 1.1 percent, respectively.

Energy

The energy index rose 0.8 percent in November following three consecutive monthly declines, and had the greatest impact on the all items index. The motor fuel index led the increase in energy costs and posted its third consecutive monthly gain, up 1.7 percent in November.  Electricity prices, which typically decline in November, were up 0.3 percent.  Partially offsetting these increases, costs for utility (piped) gas service were 1.9 percent lower over the month.

Energy prices were 5.3 percent higher than their November 2009 level. Contributing to the increase, motor fuel prices were up 8.1 percent and prices for electricity advanced 5.2 percent. Utility (piped) gas service costs were 4.7 percent lower in November 2010 than they were one year ago.

All items less food and energy

The index for all items less food and energy was unchanged in November though movements within the index were mixed. As they did in the prior month, seasonally-impacted apparel prices had the most effect on the all items less food and energy index. Apparel prices declined 1.2 percent in November after increasing 1.7 percent in October. Along with the decrease in apparel costs, lower prices for household furnishings and operations (-0.3 percent) and used cars and trucks (-1.2 percent) countered the increases that were recorded in most other components. Among those posting higher prices were new vehicles (0.6 percent), recreation (0.3 percent), and shelter (0.1 percent).

Over the year, the index for all items less food and energy rose 0.8 percent. Among the components contributing the most to the upward movement were medical care and used cars and trucks. Lower costs for household furnishings and operations and apparel helped to moderate the increase. Despite their recent monthly increases, prices for recreation and new vehicles were also lower than in November 2009.

The Midwest Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) stood at 208.816 in November 2010. A typical market basket of goods and services that cost $100.00 in the 1982-84 base period cost $208.82 in November 2010. Because regional CPI data are not adjusted for seasonal price variation, consumers and businesses should be cautious in drawing conclusions about long-term retail price trends from short-term changes in the regional indexes.

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 25,000 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 areas; they only measure the average change in prices for each area since the base period.

The Midwest region is comprised of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

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 Chicago Information Office at (312) 353-1880 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. CT.