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Early Look at 2024 Cost-Of-Living Adjustments and Maximum Contribution Base


The BLS reported on August 10th:
The Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) increased 2.6 percent
over the last 12 months to an index level of 299.899 (1982-84=100). For the month, the index
increased 0.2 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 Q3 average, so we only have to compare Q3 this year to last year.

Click on graph for larger image.

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 2.6% year-over-year in July, and although this is early – we need the data for August and September – my early guess is COLA will probably be close to 3% this year, the smallest increase since 1.3% in 2021.

Note that CPI-W was slightly negative month-over-month in August of 2022, so it is likely there will be a larger year-over-year increase in CPI-W next month than in July, hence my 3% early guess.

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).

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