(CNSNews.com) -The average price for a gallon of regular, unleaded gasoline is the lowest it has been since the end of the George W. Bush era, dropping to $1.767 a gallon in February, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported on Wednesday.
The average price of unleaded has not been that low since December 2008, when a gallon of regular unleaded dropped to $1.689 as the global economic crisis weakened demand. (That $1.689 in December 2008 was the lowest average price for a gallon of regular unleaded since March 2004, near the end of Bush's first term.)
BLS said the drop in energy prices last month, led by gasoline, was the main reason for the seasonally adjusted 0.2-percent decline in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U).
The gasoline index (all types, not just unleaded) fell sharply, declining 13.0 percent in February, and the indexes for fuel oil and electricity also decreased, although the index for natural gas rose 1 percent.
The index for all items, less food and energy, increased 0.3 percent in February, the same increase as the prior month.
The CPI represents changes in prices of all goods and services purchased for consumption by urban households, which represent about 87 percent of the total U.S. population.
The CPI-U includes expenditures by urban wage earners and clerical workers, professional, managerial, and technical workers, the self-employed, short-term workers, the unemployed, retirees and others not in the labor force.
Prices for the goods and services used to calculate the CPI are collected in 87 urban areas throughout the country and from about 23,000 retail and service establishments. Data on rents are collected from about 50,000 landlords or tenants.
Prices are taken throughout the month.
CPI-U is the most widely used measure of inflation -- "an indicator of the effectiveness of government policy," according to BLS.
In addition, business executives, labor leaders and other private citizens use the index as a guide in making economic decisions. Some wages may be tied to the CPI, as are Social Security benefits and some welfare benefits.