Am Samoa Revised CPI shows all costs in territory went up, except for alcohol

rhonda@samoanews.com

The Statistics Division of the local Commerce Department released the American Samoa Revised Consumer Price Index — First Quarter of 2017 — on Tuesday, June 27, and it confirms what many residents have been feeling in their pockets as they purchase services and goods in the territory — a definite “pinch”.

According to the document, “the first quarter 2017 revised index registered at 100.8 points; an increase of 0.8 points from the base period of the 4th quarter, 2016.”

“The annual inflation is high,” it says, “at 3.6% when compared to much lower inflations in all quarters of 2016.”

The highest rise in costs is found in the both the Transportation and Housing categories, driven by the cost of fuel & oil, “while the higher cost of cigarettes accounted for the increase in Others Goods and Services.”

The Consumer Price Index notes that Transportation had the highest quarterly increase of 4.2%, followed by the Other Goods & Services Group with 1.3% and Housing Group with a 0.8% increase.

Of interest, the Food Group had a slight increase of 0.2%  — while alcoholic beverages dropped by -0.6% from the previous quarter.

General information on the Revision

The Statistics Division conducted a Household Income and Expenditure Survey in April 2015 of a 20% sample of all households in American Samoa. The survey according to the division is a multi-purpose survey, which includes gathering information on population, housing and household, family members, education levels and health status, as well as income and family spending. It also notes that the household expenditure data was collected in two separate forms: the main questionnaire, which includes major and regular household expenditures; and a weekly diary that was kept by selected families to record their daily purchases and expenses.

The Division said the sample selection process used a probability method called “probability proportional to size” to select the most important items to be included in the Market Basket. “In all, about 240 items were originally selected,” but was later reduced when items were combined into a single item due to similarity as well as difficulty in pricing them. These were items such as credit card payments, loan payments, children’s allowances, as well as title bestowments, wedding and funeral expenses, school fundraising, airfares, etc.

The Statistical Division says, “These hard-to-price items were redistributed to measurable commodities or added to similar items in the same sub-group distributions.

“Air fares for instance were redistributed because households take round trips to Hawai’i, Apia, and Manu’a, but were all combined together,” the division said. “To calculate the real price movement of air fares,” they expanded the item to include ‘airfares to the most common destinations. “Based on available travel destinations statistics, standard air fares to Honolulu, Apia and Manu’a were applied to allocate appropriate weights in the CPI (Consumer Price Index) calculation.”

The final Revised American Samoa CPI has 228 items with 1,082 price quotations from about 100 business establishments that were used in the calculation methodology.

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