How the Inflation Rate Is Measured: 477 Government Workers at Grocery Stores



Ms. Mascitis, 50, who has been working as a BLS price checker since 2013, describes her job as “a treasure hunt.”

She set out on her route one day in April with a list of items to price. First stop: a locally owned auto-repair shop in an up-and-coming part of Philadelphia, where she is to record the total cost for a rear-brake job, wheel-bearing hull assembly replacement and full brake replacement.

The mechanic tells her about the rising costs of running the shop. He says he will have to move his office to a less-expensive part of town. He says some customers are holding off on fixing their cars and taking public transit because of high repair costs.

“It’s a mess,” she agrees.

After 10 minutes, the mechanic calls his parts supplier to find out the most up-to-date material costs.

“And is sales tax on materials and labor still 8%?” Ms. Mascitis asks. Yes, the mechanic confirms.


“We have very strict data-collection rules. Someone running a store isn’t trained in CPI’s data-collection rules,” says Ms. Greene, who supervises Ms. Mascitis and 65 price checkers in a region that includes New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia and West Virginia. She adds that it would be a burden on stores to expect them to do what CPI does. “They would say this is good enough, and good enough is not usually good enough for us.”

Author(s): Rachel Wolfe

Publication Date: 10 May 2022

Publication Site: WSJ