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

The Social Security shell game



According to The Senior Citizens League, the sleight of hand behind it is a formula for calculating the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) that has robbed seniors of 33% of their buying power since 2010.

Since then, annual COLA increases have averaged a meager 1.375%. That means the average recipient has received a COLA increase of less than $20 a month. For many, the con job is even more vexing because much of that gain is taken back with increases in Medicare premiums.

These annual COLA adjustments are based by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on a formula that uses the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers — a lengthy descriptor that’s usually abbreviated as CPI-W. Therein lies the problem — this index does not accurately reflect the rising costs that most affect seniors — such as medical care and drugs, food/staples and rent. Even the most modest estimates suggest these costs are increasing at a rate of somewhere between 5% and 10% annually.

Author(s): Dave G. Houser

Publication Date: 5 March 2021

Publication Site: Multibriefs