The consumer price index measures how much inflation increases the cost of food, gas, rent and other staples. Understanding how prices are changing for these items provides a signal about the scope of inflation and how it affects daily life.
That’s why the CPI is the most widely cited measure of inflation and is closely followed by economists, politicians and business leaders. The index influences major decisions such as cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security recipients or how much employers raise worker pay to compensate for price increases.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports CPI data in the middle of each month, classifying expenditure items into over 200 categories. You can search for these prices in our table. The categories are divided into eight major groups.
The CPI is just one barometer of inflation. Another one called the price consumption expenditure index is the Federal Reserve’s preferred measure of inflation when setting U.S. interest rates. You can search price changes for the PCE here.
The MarketWatch table calculates the actual change in prices over the most recent 12 months .
The BLS says actual or unadjusted data is the best measure for comparing changes at the same time of year. Seasonally adjusted inflation data is more accurate for determining short-term price trends.