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What Is Consumer Price Index (CPI)?

To understand how much a dollar is worth, economists must determine CPI. Consumer price index, or CPI, can be measured by determining the change in the price of goods and services. While the consumer price index can determine inflation, different countries may determine CPI with different items.

In addition, CPI is the best gauge to determine inflation within an economy. By gathering accurate information on people and businesses, CPI can generate a better gauge on financial decisions.

How Does Consumer Price Index Work?

Consumer price index, or CPI, is a tool that can determine many different factors that affect individuals and economies. Therefore, this means CPI consists of goods and services, entertainment, healthcare, food, transportation and housing.

Why Is CPI Important?

So why is CPI important? CPI is widely used to determine the economy’s health. By using the data produced by CPI, there is a chance to see how well an economy runs with current policy in place along with the standard of living based on the earnings of employees in their average spending activities. 

What Does the Consumer Price Index Affect?

CPI affects all economic factors that we as consumers feed into. CPI is a measure of the inflation within the economy. This means that it affects the purchasing power of the dollar. CPI can affect the cost of living based on wages along with the tax rates. 

What Is the Formula for CPI?

CPI can be calculated by taking the current preempt price of the basket divided by the base period price of the basket. 

It’s important to note that CPI can have several factors that can cause adjustments all of which suit the consumers needs. 

Current Period Price of the Basket / Consumer Price Index = Base Period Price of the Basket

How Is Consumer Price Index Calculated?

Consumer Price Index is the change in the current prices of goods in a particular period compared to a base year. The base year is a benchmark number that can be used to determine the changes in pricing from a particular year. The first step is to calculate the market basket for every determined category, along with determining the urban regions. Following this the pricing for items in all urban areas are determined. 

The Bureau of Labor accounts nearly 80,000 items in a period of a month. This information can be gathered from businesses for both goods and services. 

What Is an Example of CPI?

CPI is an important factor due to the fact that you can see changes in prices everywhere. Especially in the differences in price sighing the same market basket. Because CPI is an average price change, price fluctuation may vary among consumer groupings.

For example, let’s say that Joe is a car enthusiast. If Joe often trades in vehicles that begin to see a price increase of 30% over the last two years, he will most likely not commit to a trade-in. Joe may look into buying a motorcycle. Even if motorcycles have an increase of 10% over the last three years, Joe will still most likely purchase.

This is because Joe isn’t a frequent purchaser of motorcycles so the increase in CPI does not affect him. But, the increase in a product that Joe often buys (vehicles) heavily affects his purchase behavior.

Types of Consumer Price Index 

There are three major indexes used to determine CPI. For instance, CPI-U, CPI-W, and CPI regional data are all used to determine CPI in specific groupings of people. 


This type of CPI is the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers. The CPI-W collects the purchase behavior of urban households that receive most of their income from clerical/hourly wage jobs. 


Consumer Price Index for urban consumers is a measurement that assesses the change for a grouping or basket of goods and services bought by urban consumers. 

CPI Regional Data

CPI Regional Data is broken down into the four major census regions. Northeast, Midwest, South and the West. 

What Are Some Criticisms of the Consumer Price Index?

However, CPI does have some downfalls to it. These criticisms regard upward bias and downward bias.

Upward Bias

An upward bias is an overestimation based on a statistical measure of an event it looks to define. Typically when there is an upward bias there is an assumption that substitution is zero. Upward biases are also made in times when inflation is higher. 

Downward Bias

A downward bias is an underestimation based on a statistical measure of an event it looks to define. 

Learn How Financial Advisors Can Help You Grow Your Assets 

CPI is a great factor for investors to use to better understand how a government is functioning. Understanding how CPI is calculated can better determine financial decisions. Learn how you can get into contact with a concise financial advisor to determine CPI.