The There are several versions CPI-U - Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers C-CPI-U Chained Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers

The CPI frequently is called a cost-of-living index, but it differs in important ways from a complete cost-of-living measure. BLS has for some time used a cost-of-living framework in making practical decisions about questions that arise in constructing the CPI. A cost-of-living index is a conceptual measurement goal, however, and not a straightforward alternative to the CPI. A cost-of-living index would measure changes over time in the amount that consumers need to spend to reach a certain utility level or standard of living. Both the CPI and a cost-of-living index would reflect changes in the prices of goods and services, such as food and clothing, that are directly purchased in the marketplace; but a complete cost-of-living index would go beyond this role to also take into account changes in other governmental or environmental factors that affect consumers' well-being. It is very difficult to determine the proper treatment of public goods, such as safety and education, and other broad concerns, such as health, water quality, and crime, that would constitute a complete cost-of-living framework.

CPI for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) Consumer Price Index Frequently Asked Questions : U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
CPI Inflation Calculator |
Help & Tutorials: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Average Percent Change
Item 1998-
All items 2.3% 3.0%
Food and beverages 2.3 3.1
Housing 2.8 3.1
Apparel -1.6 -0.6
Transportation 1.6 4.3
Medical care 4.2 4.2
Recreation 1.3 0.9
Education and communication 1.8 2.2
Other goods and services 5.2 2.7
Special indexes
Energy 3.3 12.2
  Energy commodities 5.9 17.2
  Energy services 1.9 6.8
All items less energy 2.3 2.2
Food 2.3 3.1
All items less
food and energy 2.3 2.1
Table 1. Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U): U. S. City Average, by expenditure category and commodity and service group

The Social Security (SS) Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) is tied to the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). For the last 20 years it has been pretty close to the regular CPI. See Social Security COLA in Retirement. and See: Consumer Price Index For Urban Wage Earners And Clerical Workers (CPI-W) | Investopedia and Social Security Benefits Rising 1.7% For 2015, Top Tax Up 1.3% - Forbes

While advocates for the elderly argue CPI-W understates the true increase in costs the elderly face, deficit hawks have pushed for linking COLAs to an even lower measure of inflation known as the chained CPI.

Household Expenses

Return to Finance

last updated 5 May 2008