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Consumer Price Index

This page provides an overview of the Consumer Price Index for local governments in Washington State, with links to national data and statistics from Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue.


The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a measure of the change in prices paid over time for a fixed market basket of goods and services, as calculated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) measures the percentage change in prices faced by urban consumers and covers approximately 93% of the nation's population.

The Consumer Price Index for Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) is a subset of the CPI-U and is sometimes referred to as the "blue-collar measure." Its market basket reflects the expenditures of urban households that derive more than half their income from clerical and hourly wage jobs. It covers approximately 29% of the nation's population.

National data for each of these indices for the United States as a whole are compiled on a monthly basis. The results are available during the second week of the following month. The Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue index (which includes King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties) is compiled six times a year, in the even-numbered months.

None of these indices measure price changes in rural areas. But realizing that towns in rural areas need some indicator to use, we recommend one of the U.S. City Average indices.

CPI Geographic Changes in 2018

Effective January 2018, BLS is introducing the first CPI geographic changes since 1998. This will impact both of the Pacific Northwest indices:

  • The Seattle-Tacoma-Bremerton index (which included King, Pierce, Island, Kitsap, and Thurston counties) is now the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue index (King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties; no longer includes Island, Kitsap, and Thurston counties).
  • The Portland-Salem index (which included Clark County) has been eliminated.

Practice Tips: The Bureau of Labor Statistics recommends using one of the national indices for all contract adjustments. (See How to Use the Consumer Price Index for Escalation.) Not only is the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue published less frequently, but it is based on a smaller sample and is, therefore, more volatile and subject to measurement error.

Always write your contracts so that you will be adjusting on the basis of actual CPI figures. Never use estimates for contract adjustments.

Recommended Resources

Below are some useful resources from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Last Modified: June 12, 2018