by Calculated Risk on 9/13/2023 02:43:00 PM
The BLS reported on this morning:
The Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) increased 3.4 percent
over the last 12 months to an index level of 301.551 (1982-84=100). For the month, the index increased
0.6 percent prior to seasonal adjustment.
CPI-W is the index that is used to calculate the Cost-Of-Living Adjustments (COLA). The calculation dates have changed over time (see Cost-of-Living Adjustments), but the current calculation uses the average CPI-W for the three months in Q3 (July, August, September) and compares to the average for the highest previous average of Q3 months. Note: this is not the headline CPI-U and is not seasonally adjusted (NSA).
• In 2022, the Q3 average of CPI-W was 291.901.
The 2022 Q3 average was the highest previous Q3 average, so we only have to compare Q3 this year to last year.
This graph shows CPI-W since January 2000. The red lines are the Q3 average of CPI-W for each year.
Note: The year labeled is for the calculation, and the adjustment is effective for December of that year (received by beneficiaries in January of the following year).
CPI-W was up 3.4% year-over-year in August, and although this is early – we need the data for September – my early guess is COLA will probably be close to 3.2% this year, the smallest increase since 1.3% in 2021.
Contribution and Benefit Base
The contribution base will be adjusted using the National Average Wage Index. This is based on a one-year lag. The National Average Wage Index is not available for 2022 yet, wages increased solidly in 2022. If wages increased 5% in 2022, then the contribution base next year will increase to around $168,200 in 2024, from the current $160,200.
Remember – this is an early look. What matters is average CPI-W, NSA, for all three months in Q3 (July, August and September).