Fueled by hikes in clothing, eating out, housing and health care, the cost of living for Wasatch Front residents rose 0.2 percent in June, the second consecutive monthly increase.
But the jump in prices was less than the 0.4 percent rise nationally for June, reported First Security Corp., which last month issued its first Wasatch Front cost-of-living index - also known as a Consumer Price Index (CPI) - in tandem with the monthly U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report.First Security economist Dr. Kelly K. Matthews said that, on an an-nualized basis, June's local inflation rate would equal 2.5 percent compared with 5.4 percent nationally.
All local and national figures are non-seasonally adjusted for consistency in comparisons, said Matthews. National CPI figures are normally adjusted for seasonal variations (for example, heavy December retail sales) but First Security does not make those adjustments.
When consumer prices locally are measured over the past four months, the First Security report says the cost of living has decreased 0.1 percent compared with a national increase of 1.6 percent.
First Security has been tabulating local cost of living figures since March 1 and released its first report in June. First Security said it decided to compile the monthly figures because the lack of local price and cost-of-living information locally "has left a significant void in our overall understanding of the regional economy."
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) produces a national CPI and price indexes for some of the largest cities, but not for the Salt Lake, Ogden, Provo area. First Security's report measures price changes of more than 500 items, chosen and measured in the same manner as the BLS report.
Matthews said the increases in food eaten away from home, clothing, health care and housing were offset by decreases in the costs of transportation and food eaten at home.
Clothing costs, after two months of declining prices, were up sharply in June, leading the way to the overall cost of living increase. The Wasatch Front's 3.9 percent increase in clothing costs was in contrast to a 1.5 percent decrease nationally.
The cost of buying food to eat at home declined 1.2 percent in June along the Wasatch Front, said Matthews, reversing its May trend. Nationally, those costs rose 0.6 percent. For the past four months, food costs for home use have dropped 1.2 percent locally.
But the cost of eating out went the opposite direction. Restaurant prices locally rose 1.6 percent in June, the second month to see price hikes. First Security said lower prices for vegetable side dishes and non-alcoholic beverages were countered by price hikes for beef and chicken main dishes.
Pushed by increases in rents, housing expenses rose 0.3 percent in June, compared with a 0.8 percent increase nationally. For the four months, Wasatch Front housing costs have risen 0.6 percent.
Residential utility bills were stable in June but, overall, utility costs along the Wasatch Front have dropped 5.1 percent since March 1.
Health care costs were up 0.1 percent locally in June, but it was the fourth month in a row that Wasatch Front residents saw increases in this category. After three months of increases, prices for non-prescription drugs dropped in June, but this was offset by higher costs for physician care and the second month of increase in dental costs.
Over the past four months, the report calculates that health care costs have risen 2.1 percent locally.
Transportation costs were down 0.5 percent locally in June, the second monthly decline. Matthews credits overall lower gasoline prices for the decline.
Transportation costs for the four months March, April, May and June were down 0.4 percent.