Monday, March 17, 2014

Education and Inflation

The cost of (almost) everything keeps going up, so it can be hard to tell whether inflation is to blame, or something else.  Let's ask FRED.

FRED is the data service of the St. Louis Federal Reserve, and it provides a wealth of consumer and economic data for you to download and work with, including CPI and Chained CPI data.  For this visualization, I simply downloaded Chained CPI data for several consumer goods, like Housing, Fuel and Utilities, and Medical Expenses. Given the name of this blog, you can probably figure out where this is going.

Use the filters to show only the series or group of series you're interested in comparing. Hover over a point for details.

Many people and economists (not that those are necessarily discreet) argue with the idea of Chained CPI, but the nuances are beside the point for this purpose, I think.  It's interesting to see the comparisons between and among different categories of consumer goods; it's even more interesting to think economists boil much of this down to a single number in explaining what's happening in the economy.

For your reference, CPI (inflation) over the years 2000--2013 has been about 35%, so if you're paying for college, the good news is that alcoholic beverages are cheaper today than they were then.

And as always, this is mostly for interest, and to show general trends. Consult your economist to see if higher education is affordable for you.