The Consumer Price Index and Inflation - Get CPI Data from the Web and into a Spreadsheet

Elizabeth B. Appelbaum

Note: Each link to an external Web site will open a new window. You can return to the module either by closing that window or selecting this one.

Visit the Web site of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While on that page, carry out the following steps.

  1. Select Get Detailed Statistics at the top of the page.

  2. Scroll down to CPI-All Urban Consumers (Current Series).

  3. a) If you have a Java-enabled browser, select Create Customized Tables (One Screen) -- see Figure 1.

    Figure 1. Get Detailed Statistics. U. S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Accessed March 3, 2003.

    Then select:

    • Area: U.S. city average

    • Select one or more items: All items

    • Not Seasonally Adjusted

    • Get Data

    b) Or use this method, whether or not you have a Java browser: Select:

    • Most Requested Statistics

    • US All Items, 1982-84 = 100

    • Retrieve Data

  4. In either case (3a) or (3b), select More Formatting Options, All Years, Annual Data, and Retrieve Data.

  5. A table results in HTML format. Select all the data in the table, beginning with the words Year and Annual and ending with 2002, or the last year shown. Copy the data.

  6. If your computer does not have much memory, close all open screens .

  7. Open Microsoft Excel, and paste the material onto a worksheet.  The result, in part, is shown in Figure 2. 

    Figure 2. Part of Consumer Price Index Table, as downloaded from Bureau of Labor Statistics. Accessed March 3, 2003.

Note: This method of getting the table into Excel may not work with Macintosh computers. In that case, click here.

The Bureau changes its Web site occasionally. If you have trouble getting the information, write or call the Bureau. On the home page, under “People are asking . . .” click “Send us your question” to e-mail a question to the Bureau. Also on the home page is a list of information offices for the bureau.