Consumer Price Index, 1913-1992 (ICPSR 8166)

Published: Dec 18, 1993

Principal Investigator(s):
United States Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Version V3

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) measures over time the prices of goods and services in major expenditure categories typically purchased by urban consumers. The expenditure categories include food, housing, apparel, transportation, and medical care. Essentially, the Index measures consumer purchasing power by comparing the cost of a fixed set of goods and services (called a market basket) in a specific month relative to the cost of the same market basket in an earlier reference period, designated as the base period. The CPI is calculated for two population groups: urban wage earners and clerical workers (CPI-W) and all urban consumers (CPI-U). The CPI-W population includes those urban families with clerical workers, sales workers, craft workers, operatives, service workers, or laborers in the family unit and is representative of the prices paid by about 40 percent of the United States population. The CPI-U population consists of all urban households (including professional and salaried workers, part-time workers, the self-employed, the unemployed, and retired persons) and is representative of the prices paid by about 80 percent of the United States population. Both populations specifically exclude persons in the military, in institutions, and all persons living outside of urban areas (such as farm families). National indexes for both populations are available for about 350 consumer items and groups of items. In addition, over 100 of the indexes have been adjusted for seasonality. The indexes are monthly with some beginning in 1913. Area indexes are available for 27 urban places. For each area, indexes are presented for about 65 items and groups. The area indexes are produced monthly for 5 areas, bimonthly for 10 areas, and semiannually for 12 urban areas. Regional indexes are available for four regions with about 95 items and groups per region. Beginning with January 1987, regional indexes are monthly, with some beginning as early as 1966. City-size indexes are available for four size classes with about 95 items and groups per class. Beginning with January 1987, these indexes are monthly and most begin in 1977. Regional and city-size indexes are available cross-classified by region and city-size class. For each of the 13 cross-classifications, about 60 items and groups are available. Beginning with January 1987, these indexes are monthly and most begin in 1977. Each index record includes a series identification code that specifies the sample (either all urban consumers or urban wage earners and clerical workers), seasonality (either seasonally adjusted or unadjusted), periodicity (either semiannual or regular), geographic area, index base period, and item number of the index.

United States Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Consumer Price Index, 1913-1992. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 1993-12-18.

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1913 -- 1992

These data contain two types of records: "T", which are Index Title records, and "M", which are data records. There is one "M" record for each year covered in the index described in the preceding "T" record. Each "M" record contains 24 variables.

The CPI is calculated from data collected in 94 urban areas or Primary Sampling Units (PSUs) selected on the basis of criteria that include region, population size, percent of population increase from 1960 to 1970, and major industry. The market basket of items that is priced in the CPI is selected in two phases. In the first phase, item categories are selected at the Entry Level Item (ELI) level, a relatively broadly-defined grouping of items (e.g., new cars or women's active sportswear). The sample of item categories is derived from detailed expenditure information provided by households (either families or single persons) in the CPI population that has been collected by the Bureau of the Census using the Consumer Expenditure Survey (CES). The probability of selection of an ELI is made proportional to the expenditure reported for that ELI in the CES. In the second phase, specific item selection is made from within the designated ELI categories using multistage probability sampling procedures.

All goods and services purchased by urban consumers in the United States.

aggregate data




  • Data in this collection are available only to users at ICPSR member institutions.

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