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March 2003, Vol. 126, No.3
Consumer prices up slightly more in 2002, led by energy and hospital servicesTodd Wilson
The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) for All Items for the U.S. city average increased 2.4 percent in 2002, up from a 1.6-percent rise during the prior year.1 The acceleration mainly reflects higher prices for energy (motor fuel and household fuels) and hospital services (both inpatient and outpatient). Within the energy component (which represents about 6 percent of the CPI), double-digit increases were recorded for gasoline and fuel oil.
When energy is excluded, consumer inflation was lower in 2002 than in 2001: the all items less energy index increased only 1.8 percent, compared with 2.8 percent in 2001. Excluding both food and energy, the commodities index decreased 1.5 percent last year, the largest calendar-year decrease since the BLS began keeping records in 1958. Durable commodities prices (including vehicles, furniture and bedding, computers, and so forth) decreased 3.3 percent in 2002, the largest calendar-year decrease since 1938. The nondurables index rose 3.1 percent last year, following a 1.4-percent decrease during the earlier year. The aggregate commodities index was up 1.2 percent, after declining 1.4 percent in 2001. Commodities are generally subject to greater global competition than services, and generally experience price increases less than those in services. Prices rose less for services in 2002 than in 2001 (3.2 percent versus 3.7 percent, respectively), reflecting lower increases for both owners equivalent rent and rent of primary residence.
This excerpt is from an article published in the March 2003 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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1 Annual percent changes are calculated from December to December, unless otherwise stated.
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