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December 1996, Vol. 119, No. 12

Publication strategy for the 1998 revised Consumer Price Index

Steven Grandits

Beginning in 1998, the Bureau of Labor Statistics will introduce a new geographic area sample, a revised item structure, and updated expenditure weights into the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Approximately every 10 years, the CPI is revised in this manner in order to keep the index up to date. Since World War II, the CPI has been revised in 1953, 1964, 1978, and 1987.

A new geographic sample is selected in order to account for shifts in population and to ensure that the sample is representative of current demographics. The CPI item structure, the term for the categories of products and services that are priced and for the scheme used to aggregate them into broader groups, is revised to account for changes in consumer buying habits and to accommodate new or changing products in the marketplace. The expenditure weights are replaced with information from a more current consumer survey to properly reflect changes in the purchasing patterns of the populations represented.

Taken together, these changes require the development of a new publication strategy for the CPI. This strategy encompasses not only the presentation of the changes, but also the methods used in determining the exact number and form of the indexes being published and methods for easing the transition from the old publication structure to the new one.

The 1998 CPI revision contains substantial changes in both the items being presented and the frequency of publication of local area indexes. In addition, the CPI is, for the first time, using measures of variability to help determine what should and should not be published. Also for the first time, the Bureau is preparing and publishing some new indexes a year ahead of their actual introduction in 1998, in order to help ease the transition for users in cases where there has been a substantial change in the composition of some local area indexes.

This excerpt is from an article published in the December 1996 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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Related BLS programs
Consumer Price Index
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