The average cost of a market basket of goods and services in the United States rose 0.2 percent in February from January according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic's Consumer Price Index (CPI). February's index of 178.0 was 1.1 percent higher than the February 2001 index of 176.0. However, the annual inflation rate has declined or stayed constant for nine consecutive months after peaking in May 2001 at 3.6%.
The overall index for energy costs fell 0.8 percent in February from January, offsetting last month's 0.9 percent increase. Transportation also decreased 0.2 percent. Categories that saw increases were food and beverages (+ 0.2 percent), housing (+ 0.3 percent), apparel (+ 0.5 percent), medical care (+ 0.3 percent), recreation (+ 0.1 percent), education and communication (+ 0.2 percent), and other goods and services (+ 1.0 percent).
The CPI is based on prices of food, clothing, shelter, fuels, transportation fares, charges for doctor's and dentist's services, drugs, and other goods and services that people buy for day-to-day living. Prices are collected in 87 urban areas across the country (including Kansas City and St. Louis) from about 50,000 housing units and approximately 23,000 stores, hospitals, and other types of service establishments.
The actual index is expressed as a number derived by comparing the current cost of goods and services to the cost of the same items between 1982-1984. The reference year is given a value equal to 100. Subsequent indices are expressed as a percentage of the base year.