The average cost of a market basket of goods and services in the United States dropped 0.4 percent in December, led for the third straight month by falling energy costs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic's Consumer Price Index (CPI). Although December's index of 176.7 was down from November's 177.4, it was up 1.6 percent for the year 2001.
The overall index for energy costs declined 3.2 percent in December, due primarily to continued decreases in petroleum-based energy costs, which fell 24.5 percent in 2001. Other categories that saw decreases were other goods and services (1.0 percent), transportation (0.8 percent), apparel (0.6 percent), recreation (0.2 percent), and food and beverages (0.1 percent). Categories showing increases from November included: housing (0.2 percent), medical care (0.1 percent), and education and communication (0.1 percent).
The CPI is based on prices of food, clothing, shelter, fuels, transportation fares, charges for doctors' and dentists' 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.