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WASATCH FRONT LIVING COSTS DROPPED .8 PERCENT IN NOVEMBER

SHARE WASATCH FRONT LIVING COSTS DROPPED .8 PERCENT IN NOVEMBER

The cost of living dropped 0.8 percent for Wasatch Front residents in November, compared with an increase of 0.2 percent (non-seasonally adjusted) for the nation as a whole, First Security Corp. reported on Tuesday.

First Security economist Kelly K. Matthews said local price hikes for groceries were offset by declines in transportation, clothing, utilities, health care and restaurant prices.The Wasatch Front Inflation Index (measured from 100 in March1988 when the monthly cost of living reports began) was at 100.2 for November. That compares with a much larger 108.3 percent inflation in living costs nationally as computed from the same base month.

The percentages are figured by a weighted average of each category as determined by the spending patterns of the average family budget, as calculated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Here's how the various categories fared in November along the Wasatch Front:

Groceries

Overall costs were up 0.4 percent in November, continuing October's trend. Price decreases for produce and alcoholic beverages were offset by increases in meat and shelf items.

Produce prices fell 7.0 percent with celery leading the way with a 15.3 percent drop. Meat prices rose 4.5 percent following a month of decreases. Pork prices rose 11.6 percent for the month.

Prices for shelf items rose 1.0 percent, the second month of increases, led by eggs, up 6.3 percent, mustard, up 5.4 percent and soft drinks, up 3.0 percent. Bread was down 6.4 percent, gelatin products declined 3.0 percent and butter dropped 1.5 percent, continuing its October trend.

Since March 1988, grocery costs have risen 11.1 percent, with 1.9 percent of the rise coming in the past six months.

Housing

Following a month of price hikes, housing costs - based on local rents - remained stable in November. Since March 1988, housing costs have decreased 1.4 percent but have increased 2.0 percent over the past six months.

Health care

Wasatch Front residents paid 0.5 percent less for health care last month, following two months of increases. Lower prices on non-prescription medicines were credited, along with lower costs for dental care. Since March 1988, health care costs have increased 3.1 percent locally with 2.2 percent of that coming in the past six months.

Utilities

Residential utility bills were down 0.8 percent in November, the second month in a row of declines. Electric bills dropped for a third month - by 3.3 percent - while water rates decreased 0.6 percent. Gas bills were stable. Since the reports began in March 1988, utility costs are down 7.3 percent but have increased 0.9 percent in the past six months.

Transportation

A 2.8 percent decrease in transportation costs was computed in November, following a month of increases. Lower gasoline prices caused the drop. Since March 1988, transportation costs locally have increased 1.0 percent but have dropped 6.0 percent over the past six months.

Restaurant food

The cost of eating out decreased 2.0 percent last month after two months of increases. Higher prices for beef dishes were offset by lower costs for vegetables and chicken dishes. A 2.8 percent increase in restaurant costs has been measured since March 1988, with 0.2 percent coming in the past six months.

Clothing

Following three months of price hikes, local clothing costs decreased 1.8 percent last month. Lower price tags were seen across the board. Since March 1988, clothing costs have decreased 3.9 percent locally but have risen 2.0 percent over the past six months.

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(Additional information)

Cost of living index

Wasatch Front

Index Non-Seas Adj

Mar. 1988=100 6 Mos. Prior 1 mo. Prior

All categories 100.2 0.0 percent -0.8 percent

Housing 98.6 2.0 percent 0.0 percent

Transportation 101.0 -6.0 percent -2.8 percent

Health care 103.1 2.2 percent -0.5 percent

Food at home 111.1 1.9 percent 0.4 percent

Clothing 96.1 2.0 percent -1.8 percent

Food away 102.8 0.2 percent -2.0 percent

Utilities 92.7 0.9 percent -0.8 percent

Other 100.5 -0.1 percent -0.4 percent

National

Index Non-Seas Adj Seas. Adj

Mar. 1988=100 6 mos prior 1 mo Prior 1 mo. prior

All categories 108.3 1.65 0.2 percent 0.4 percent

Housing 106.7 2.0 percent 0.1 percent 0.5 percent

Transportation 107.5 -0.9 percent 0.4 percent 0.2 percent

Health care 113.2 4.4 percent 0.8 percent 0.8 percent

Food at home 110.0 1.1 percent 0.3 percent 0.7 percent

Clothing 110.5 1.5 percent -0.5 percent 0.1 percent

Food away 108.2 2.0 percent 0.3 percent 0.3 percent

Utilities 105.1 1.6 percent -0.5 percent 0.9 percent

Other 112.8 4.5 percent 0.1 percent 0.3 percent