Harmonised index of consumer prices (HICP) (prc_hicp)

National Reference Metadata in Euro SDMX Metadata Structure (ESMS)

Compiling agency: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Time Dimension: 2017-A0

Data Provider: US6

Data Flow: HICP_ESMS_A

Eurostat metadata
Reference metadata
1. Contact
2. Metadata update
3. Statistical presentation
4. Unit of measure
5. Reference Period
6. Institutional Mandate
7. Confidentiality
8. Release policy
9. Frequency of dissemination
10. Accessibility and clarity
11. Quality management
12. Relevance
13. Accuracy
14. Timeliness and punctuality
15. Coherence and comparability
16. Cost and Burden
17. Data revision
18. Statistical processing
19. Comment
Related Metadata
Annexes (including footnotes)

For any question on data and metadata, please contact: EUROPEAN STATISTICAL DATA SUPPORT


1. Contact Top
1.1. Contact organisation

US Bureau of Labor Statistics

1.2. Contact organisation unit

US Bureau of Labor Statistics

1.5. Contact mail address

2 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington, DC 20212, USA

2. Metadata update Top
2.1. Metadata last certified 07/07/2017
2.2. Metadata last posted 07/07/2017
2.3. Metadata last update 07/07/2017

3. Statistical presentation Top
3.1. Data description

The US Harmonized Index of Consumer Prices for the total population (US-HICР-Т) is an 'experimental' series that the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) constructs to supplement the Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers (CPI-U), the official or 'headline' Consumer Price Index.

The US HICP uses a quantity-weighted, Laspeyres-type (Lowe), index formula to aggregate elementary indexes.

HICP indexes along with annual and monthly index percent changes for 13 series: the HICP All-items, and the 12 two-digit HICP categories of the COICOP (Classification Of Individual Consumption by purpose) are available from January 2001.

Experimental series such as the HICР-Т are produced after the release of the official series. They are produced outside the official CPI production system and lack a firm institutional commitment to continue them indefinitely. They are not on the CPI web site, but are available on request.

3.2. Classification system

The HICPs are currently classified according to the COICOP (Classification of individual consumption by purpose).

Main COICOP headings:

00. All-items (total or all-items index/rate)
01. Food and non-alcoholic beverages
02. Alcoholic beverages and tobacco
03. Clothing and footwear
04. Housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels
05. Furnishings, Household equipment and routine maintenance of the house
06. Health 07. Transport
08. Communication
09. Recreation and culture
10. Education
11. Restaurants and hotels
12. Miscellaneous goods and services

3.3. Coverage - sector

Differences between the HICP and national CPI: The US-HIСР-Т differs from the official CPI, the Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers (CPI-U) in the following ways:

  • The US-HICP-T’s weights are based on expenditures of the entire non-institutional US population; the CPI-U excludes rural consumers’ expenditures. (An HIСР for urban consumers, the US-HICP-U, is also calculated for comparison with the CPI-U.) Prices used to estimate price change are from the urban United States only.
  • The US-HIСР-Т excludes owner occupied housing (OOH) by omitting the elementary indexes for Owners’ equivalent rent of primary residence and Owners’ equivalent rent of secondary residences.
  • Unlike the CPI-U, the US-HIСР-Т does not adjust the weights of housing-related elementary indexes (such as those for home maintenance and household appliances); the CPI-U makes these adjustments to avoid overlap with OOH
3.4. Statistical concepts and definitions

The published data is as follows:

1. Monthly data:

  • Indices (HICP 2015=100, 2005=100, HICP: 1996=100)
  • Annual rates of change
  • Monthly rates of change
  • 12-month average rate of change

2. Annual data:

  • Average index and rate of change
  • Item weights
3.5. Statistical unit

Each published index or rate of change refers to in-scope consumption expenditures made by the population of eligible consumer units in the corresponding geographical entity.

3.6. Statistical population

The US HICP-T uses the 'national' concept, covering the consumption spending of all resident households, including their spending outside the country. It excludes expenditures of:

  • US citizens whose primary residence is outside the United States
  • Residents of US territories
  • Foreign visitors in the United States
  • People living in institutions such as prisons
3.7. Reference area


Expenditure estimates (weights) are derived from the US Consumer Expenditure Survey (CEX) for the population defined above.


Most CPI prices are collected from a statistical sample of retail establishments (called outlets). The outlets are selected to represent the spending of urban consumers. The outlets selected to represent the populations of small urban areas (called micropolitan areas in the US) serve as proxies for the rural population outlets.

3.8. Coverage - Time

US-HICР-Т are available from December 2001

3.9. Base period

The index reference period is 2015=100.

4. Unit of measure Top

Following units are used:

  • Index (actually unitless, i.e. it is the ratio of the price of the basket in a given year to the price in the base year multiplied by 100. However, the HICP can be thought of as the amount the average consumer would have to spend in a given year to buy the same basic goods and services that one would have to pay 100 monetary units for in the base period);
  • Percentage change on the previous month (rates);
  • Percentage change on the same period of the previous year (rates);
  • Percentage change on the December of the previous year (rates);
  • Percentage change of the 12 months of current year compared to corresponding period of the previous year (rates);
  • Percentage share of the total (weights).

5. Reference Period Top

The index reference period for the US-ШСР-Т is December 2001=100.

6. Institutional Mandate Top
6.1. Institutional Mandate - legal acts and other agreements

Not applicable.

6.2. Institutional Mandate - data sharing

Not applicable.

7. Confidentiality Top
7.1. Confidentiality - policy

Not applicable.

7.2. Confidentiality - data treatment

Not applicable.

8. Release policy Top
8.1. Release calendar

Not applicable.

8.2. Release calendar access

Not applicable.

8.3. Release policy - user access

Not applicable.

9. Frequency of dissemination Top

Indices: Monthly. Weights: Every two years, in even years.

10. Accessibility and clarity Top
10.1. Dissemination format - News release

No News Release.

10.2. Dissemination format - Publications

No publication.

10.3. Dissemination format - online database

Eurostat's HICP database.

10.4. Dissemination format - microdata access

Not available.

10.5. Dissemination format - other

Not available.

10.6. Documentation on methodology

Further details about the US HIСР can be found in the Monthly Labor Review article published in May 2006 at http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2006/05/art3full.pdf.

10.7. Quality management - documentation

Not available.

11. Quality management Top
11.1. Quality assurance

Not applicable.

11.2. Quality management - assessment

Not applicable.

12. Relevance Top
12.1. Relevance - User Needs

Not applicable.

12.2. Relevance - User Satisfaction

Not available.

12.3. Completeness

Only All-items and 12 COICOP two-digit categories are available.

13. Accuracy Top
13.1. Accuracy - overall

Not available.

13.2. Sampling error

Not available.

13.3. Non-sampling error

Not available.

14. Timeliness and punctuality Top
14.1. Timeliness

The HICP is available as soon as possible (usually the same day) after the publication of official CPI data; these publication dates are on the US CPI web site at https://www.bls.gov/cpi/

14.2. Punctuality

Not available.

15. Coherence and comparability Top
15.1. Comparability - geographical

Not available.

15.2. Comparability - over time

Not available.

15.3. Coherence - cross domain

Not available.

15.4. Coherence - internal

Not available.

16. Cost and Burden Top

Not available.

17. Data revision Top
17.1. Data revision - policy

As with the CPI-U, the US-HIСР-T is published as final and not revised to account for late arriving data. If an error is found after release, the official CPI correction policy determines whether to issue revised indexes. If the CPI-U is revised to correct an error, the US-HIСР-T is revised as well.

17.2. Data revision - practice

See 17.1.

18. Statistical processing Top
18.1. Source data

Sample size (The figures below relate to April 2017, but are indicative of every year):

Approximately 100,000 price observations are collected from approximately 20,000 retail outlets.

Approximate Nr. of price observations per month: April 2011

01 Food and non-alcoholic beverages 34,700

02 Alcoholic beverages, tobacco 1,800

03 Clothing and footwear 11,600

04 Housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels 4,000

05 Furnishings, household equipment and routine household maintenance 5,700

06 Health 6,400

07 Transport 16,500

08 Communication 2,200

09 Recreation and culture 8,000

10 Education 800

11 Restaurants and hotels 4,300

12 Miscellaneous goods and services 3,400

The figures above are the target numbers of quotes to be collected. As some items may be out of stock during the collection, the actual number of prices collected in any month is fewer than the quoted targets.

18.2. Frequency of data collection

Price collection for all goods and services are collected throughout the month.

18.3. Data collection

The HIСР-Т partitions the United States into 42 geographic strata. These are the 38 CPI-U index areas, geographic strata of the urban United States (all metropolitan and micropolitan areas), plus four geographic strata that cover the rural parts of the four US 'Census Regions'.

The US item classification defines 243 item strata. Somewhat simplified, the basic indexes (elementary aggregates) are the product of the 42 area strata and the 243 item strata; this yields 10,206 'cells'. Each cell has a weight based on its consumer expenditures.

Outlet selection:

In most item categories the outlet sampling frame is the US Point-of-Purchase Survey (POPS). The POPS interviews households living in the selected CPI pricing areas. Outlets are selected in proportion to the purchases in the categories as reported in the POPS. Consequently, the outlet sample represents spending patterns of the urban households only. In some categories outlets are selected using other frames. The rent survey uses the Decennial Census and the American Community Survey.

BLS staff based in the 87 pricing areas visit the selected outlets, use probability sampling to select the unique items within the items category and then follow their prices over time.

One-eighth of the outlets and their item samples rotate every six months. Outlets may be located outside the pricing area in which their POPS was conducted, but outlets located far from any CPI pricing area are truncated if they cannot be interviewed by telephone or on-line. Prices for e-commerce outlets are usually collected from Internet web sites, without regard for location.

Techniques of products selection and specification:

The US CPI maintains a 'checklist' for each item category. These define the scope of the category and the range of items included in it. CPI economists continually review the checklists to keep them up to date. CPI data collectors use the checklist of an item category to select a sample of items in each outlet for the category. They also use the checklists to find a replacement for items that become permanently unavailable in the outlet.

18.4. Data validation

Controls on the quality of the data:

Price collection: BLS data collection staff, who are based in the CPI pricing areas, use tablet computers to collect the rents and most prices in the CPI samples. The data collection software has edits, consistency checks, and computational algorithms to ensure accurate collection. The CPI’s Data Collection Quality Program (DCQP) requires data collection supervisors to re-collect a sample of the collected observations to verify the accuracy of the collected prices.

Data processing: The BLS data collection staff electronically transmits collected data to the BLS National Office daily. Computer checks review the collected data and route a substantial share of it to CPI analysts for verification. As appropriate, the analysts may decide to add a quality adjustment or to hold an observation out of a given month’s calculation.

Index calculation: There are rigorous documented procedures and checking programs, with several stages of review and sign off before each month’s index is final. CPI analysts review 1-month and 12-month percent changes of indexes at the elementary level and at various levels of aggregation. One set of analysts review indexes by item and another set review indexes by area.

18.5. Data compilation

HICP and CPI weights are derived from expenditures reported on the US Consumer Expenditure Survey (CEX), which provides annual expenditure data for every calendar year. The CEX collects expenditures for the entire United States, including rural areas. (The CPI-U uses only the urban portion of the CEX.)

Unlike the HICP, US-HICP-T uses biennial weights and are updated biennially in January of even years, using the CEX from three and two years previous, updated for price change to the December before their first use. (The January 2016 through December 2017 indexes use weights based on the 2013 and the 2014 CEX updated for price change to December 2015).

Updating weights at every level:

Individual item weights are the inverse of the probability of selection. For items selected with POPS sampling frames these are derived from expenditures reported on the POPS, which are the basis for the item weights.

Weights for elementary and higher aggregates are based on the Consumer Expenditure Survey as described above.

Computation of the lowest-level indices:
The elementary indexes for most basic item categories use a weighted geometric mean to combine price ratios. The geometric mean is used to allow for some consumer substitution among outlets and items within the item/area cell. Categories such as some medical care and household utilities, for which substitution is judged to be rare, use a Laspeyres-type weighted arithmetic mean. The weights are derived from expenditures reported on the POPS.

Treatment of missing items and replacements:

Missing prices that are believed to be temporally unavailable are imputed (i.e., the price moves with those of other prices in the item category or geographic area). Items deemed permanently unavailable are replaced. The data collectors use the checklist for the item category to aid them in finding the item that the outlet currently offers that is most similar to the one they were previously observing.

An economist in the Washington Office reviews every replacement, deeming it either comparable (the replacement is essentially the same in terms of price-determining characteristics) or as non-comparable. Comparable replacements are treated as continuing items, and the price of the new is compared to that of the previous. In the non-comparable case, that observation is either omitted from the current month’s calculation or the price of the previous item is adjusted by the estimated difference in value. If the item is omitted, its price is imputed by either the cell-relative method (which assumes that the item price movement is like average of all other prices in its cell) or by the class-mean method (which assumes it is like a subset of items, usually just those that were comparable or quality adjusted replacements).

Introduction of newly significant goods and services:
These are introduced as part of the ongoing rotation of outlets and items. Care is taken to include them on the checklists for their category and to alert the data collectors.

The item classification system may also be revised to reflect changes in the marketplace. Significant changes are implemented with the biennial weight revision, in January of even years (for example, January 2016).

Treatment of price reductions:
Sales prices are included and can occur at any time in any month.

Treatment of seasonal items:

Scope of Seasonal Items
There are seasonal items the Apparel, Food, Recreation, and Household operations groups.

Measurement Method
The US CPI imputes the prices of seasonal items when they are out of season. In some categories special procedures ensure that both seasons are included in the samples so that some in-season prices can be collected every month.

18.6. Adjustment

Quality adjustments are typically based on hedonic models. For details see: http://www.bls.gov/cpi/cpihqaitem.htm

Estimates of quality difference for new vehicles and computers are based on option costs. For details about quality adjustments in computers see: https://www.bls.gov/cpi/cpifaccomp.htm. For details about quality adjustments in new vehicles see: https://www.bls.gov/cpi/cpifacnv.htm

19. Comment Top


Related metadata Top

Annexes Top