consumer price index

noun
Updated on: 26 Jul 2017

Definition of consumer price index

  1. :  an index measuring the change in the cost of typical wage-earner purchases of goods and services expressed as a percentage of the cost of these same goods and services in some base period —called also cost-of-living index

First Known Use of consumer price index

1945


Financial Definition of CONSUMER PRICE INDEX

consumer price index

What It Is

The consumer price index (CPI) measures changes in consumer prices. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) calculates and publishes CPI data monthly. The CPI is the most recognized inflation measure in the United States.

How It Works

The consumer price index measures the change in the retail prices of approximately 80,000 specific goods and services, called the market basket. The goods and services fall into eight major categories: food and beverage, housing, apparel, transportation, medical care, recreation, education and communication, and other. The BLS updates the market basket every few years to remove obsolete items.

To get the data, BLS economic assistants call or visit approximately 23,000 stores and contact approximately 50,000 landlords or tenants in 87 urban areas every month to get prices on the items in the market basket. Commodity specialists review the information and make adjustments for changes in size or quality of the product.

The BLS then compares the cost of the market basket to the same basket in the starting year (usually 1982-1984). To do this, the BLS sets the average price of the market basket during the years 1982, 1983, and 1984 to equal 100. Then in every subsequent period, the BLS calculates price changes in relation to that number. A resulting CPI of 120, for example, means that prices are 20% higher than they were in the base period. By comparing the difference in CPI in consecutive months or years, we can calculate the percentage increase in prices, giving us the inflation rate.

Why It Matters

The CPI is perhaps the best way we have to gauge the amount of inflation in the economy. The affect of inflation directly or indirectly affects nearly every financial decision, from consumer choices to lending rates, from asset allocation to stock prices. By accurately measuring the amount of inflation, people, business, and the government are better able to make future financial decisions. For more information about the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation measures, visit {ia_ext|www.bls.gov/cpi|http://www.bls.gov/cpi}.


Law Dictionary

consumer price index

noun consumer price in·dex

Legal Definition of consumer price index

  1. :  an index measuring the change in the cost of typical wage-earner purchases of goods and services in some base period —called also cost-of-living index


Learn More about consumer price index


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up consumer price index? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

an extremely thin woman

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time-traveler-quiz-which-word-came-first
  • Which came first?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!