Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Release: Consumer Price Index
The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers: All Items (CPIAUCSL) is a price index of a basket of goods and services paid by urban consumers. Percent changes in the price index measure the inflation rate between any two time periods. The most common inflation metric is the percent change from one year ago. It can also represent the buying habits of urban consumers. This particular index includes roughly 88 percent of the total population, accounting for wage earners, clerical workers, technical workers, self-employed, short-term workers, unemployed, retirees, and those not in the labor force.
The CPIs are based on prices for food, clothing, shelter, and fuels; transportation fares; service fees (e.g., water and sewer service); and sales taxes. Prices are collected monthly from about 4,000 housing units and approximately 26,000 retail establishments across 87 urban areas. To calculate the index, price changes are averaged with weights representing their importance in the spending of the particular group. The index measures price changes (as a percent change) from a predetermined reference date. In addition to the original unadjusted index distributed, the Bureau of Labor Statistics also releases a seasonally adjusted index. The unadjusted series reflects all factors that may influence a change in prices. However, it can be very useful to look at the seasonally adjusted CPI, which removes the effects of seasonal changes, such as weather, school year, production cycles, and holidays.
The CPI can be used to recognize periods of inflation and deflation. Significant increases in the CPI within a short time frame might indicate a period of inflation, and significant decreases in CPI within a short time frame might indicate a period of deflation. However, because the CPI includes volatile food and oil prices, it might not be a reliable measure of inflationary and deflationary periods. For a more accurate detection, the core CPI (CPILFESL) is often used. When using the CPI, please note that it is not applicable to all consumers and should not be used to determine relative living costs. Additionally, the CPI is a statistical measure vulnerable to sampling error since it is based on a sample of prices and not the complete average.
For more information on the consumer price indexes, see:
Bureau of Economic Analysis. "CPI Detailed Report." 2013.
Handbook of Methods
Understanding the CPI: Frequently Asked Questions
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers: All Items in U.S. City Average [CPIAUCSL], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/CPIAUCSL, May 16, 2022.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis
Release: Personal Income and Outlays
BEA Account Code: DPCCRG
The Personal Consumption Expenditures Price Index is a measure of the prices that people living in the United States, or those buying on their behalf, pay for goods and services. The change in the PCE price index is known for capturing inflation (or deflation) across a wide range of consumer expenses and reflecting changes in consumer behavior. For example, if car prices rise, car sales may decline while bicycle sales increase.
The PCE Price Index is produced by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), which revises previously published PCE data to reflect updated information or new methodology, providing consistency across decades of data that's valuable for researchers. They also offer the series as a Chain-Type index and excluding food and energy products, as above. The PCE price index less food excluding food and energy is used primarily for macroeconomic analysis and forecasting future values of the PCE price index.
The PCE Price Index is similar to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' consumer price index for urban consumers. The two indexes, which have their own purposes and uses, are constructed differently, resulting in different inflation rates.
For more information on the PCE price index, see:
U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Guide to the National Income and Product Accounts of the United States (NIPA)
U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Personal Consumption Expenditures Price Index
U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Prices & Inflation
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Differences between the Consumer Price Index and the Personal Consumption Expenditure Price Index
U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Personal Consumption Expenditures Excluding Food and Energy (Chain-Type Price Index) [PCEPILFE], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/PCEPILFE, May 16, 2022.