The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a measure of the average change over time in the prices paid by consumers for a market basket of goods and services. In the US the statistic we refer to as the CPI is actually the CPI-U. It is a calculation of all urban wage earners and consumers and represents about 87% of the total US population. Not included in the CPI-U are the spending patterns of people living in rural areas, farms, the Armed Forces, and those in prisons or mental hospitals.

The Consumer Price Index is often misused as a cost-of-living index; it is not. A cost-of-living index takes into account the necessary spending required to reach a specified standard of living. This might include safety, education, health, water quality, crime, etc. These factors are not as easily defined or measured.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics measures price changes for about 200 categories of items, including government user-fees and sales taxes, that fall into 8 major groups:

  • Food and Beverages
  • Housing
  • Apparel
  • Transportation
  • Medical Care
  • Recreation
  • Education and Communication
  • Other Goods and Services
The Consumer Price Index is only one government statistic used to measure inflation. There is also the Producer Price Index, the Employment Cost Index and the Gross National Product Deflator. But the CPI-U is the best measurement for translating retail sales and hourly or weekly earnings into real or inflation-free dollars.


*** Historical Data ***

                 Change		
      Annual    (Rate of 			
Year  Average	Inflation)	
					
1913	 9.9	   --			
1914    10.0	  1.0			
1915	10.1	  1.0			
1916	10.9	  7.9			
1917	12.8	 17.4			
1918	15.1	 18.0			
1919	17.3	 14.6			
1920	20.0     15.6			
1921	17.9	-10.5			
1922	16.8	 -6.1			
1923	17.1	  1.8			
1924	17.1	  0.0			
1925	17.5	  2.3			
1926	17.7	  1.1			
1927	17.4	 -1.7			
1928	17.1	 -1.7			
1929	17.1	  0.0			
1930	16.7	 -2.3			
1931	15.2	 -9.0			
1932	13.7	 -9.9			
1933	13.0	 -5.1			
1934	13.4	  3.1			
1935	13.7	  2.2			
1936	13.9	  1.5			
1937	14.4	  3.6			
1938	14.1	 -2.1			
1939	13.9	 -1.4			
1940	14.0	  0.7			
1941	14.7	  5.0			
1942	16.3	 10.9			
1943	17.3	  6.1			
1944	17.6	  1.7			
1945	18.0	  2.3			
1946	19.5	  8.3			
1947	22.3	 14.4			
1948	24.1	  8.1			
1949	23.8	 -1.2			
1950	24.1	  1.3			
1951	26.0	  7.9			
1952	26.5	  1.9			
1953	26.7	  0.8			
1954	26.9	  0.7			
1955	26.8	 -0.4			
1956	27.2	  1.5			
1957	28.1	  3.3			
1958	28.9	  2.8			
1959	29.1	  0.7			
1960	29.6	  1.7			
1961	29.9	  1.0			
1962	30.2	  1.0			
1963	30.6	  1.3			
1964	31.0	  1.3			
1965	31.5	  1.6			
1966	32.4	  2.9			
1967	33.4	  3.1			
1968	34.8	  4.2			
1969	36.7	  5.5			
1970	38.8	  5.7			
1971	40.5	  4.4			
1972	41.8	  3.2			
1973	44.4	  6.2			
1974	49.3	 11.0			
1975	53.8	  9.1			
1976	56.9	  5.8			
1977	60.6	  6.5			
1978	65.2	  7.6			
1979	72.6	 11.3			
1980	82.4	 13.5			
1981	90.9	 10.3			
1982	96.5	  6.2			
1983	99.6	  3.2			
1984   103.9	  4.3			
1985   107.6	  3.6			
1986   109.6	  1.9						
1987   113.6	  3.6						
1988   118.3	  4.1						
1989   124.0	  4.8						
1990   130.7	  5.4						
1991   136.2	  4.2						
1992   140.3	  3.0						
1993   144.5	  3.0						
1994   148.2	  2.6						
1995   152.4	  2.8						
1996   156.9	  2.9						
1997   160.5	  2.3						
1998   163.0	  1.6						
1999   166.6	  2.2						
2000   172.2	  3.4

 Base year is chained;
   1982-1984 = 100
http://minneapolisfed.org/economy/calc/hist1913.html
http://stats.bls.gov/cpihome.htm

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.