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While national inflation figures were going up in January, Wasatch Front residents enjoyed a slightly lower cost of living for the month, according to First Security Bank of Utah.

In its monthly report on consumer prices, First Security said Wednesday that local living costs dropped 0.1 percent last month, compared with a non-seasonally adjusted increase of 0.6 percent nationally.First Security economist Kelly Matthews said that if the local deflation were annual-ized, it would equal a 1.2 percent drop in the average cost of some 500 goods and services the bank measures monthly along the Wasatch Front.

Matthews said increased costs of groceries, transportation and utilities were more than offset by decreases in the costs of health care, clothing, restaurant food and taxes. Local housing costs were stable in January.

For the past six months, overall consumer costs locally are down 0.7 percent, according to Matthews. The local inflation index was placed at 100 last March when the bank began monitoring prices, and it stood at 98.8 at the end of January.

That compares with a 104.2 rate nationally calculated by First Security from the same starting period.

Matthews said the total percentage change is the result of a weighted average of the individual categories with the weighting determined by the spending patterns of the average family budget, as determined by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

TAXES. For the first time since First Security began issuing its report, the bank measured the local impact of taxes on the average Wasatch Front consumer. It found a decrease of 1.1 percent in January.

GROCERIES. Led by an 11.6 percent jump in the overall prices of produce (tomatoes up 23.3 percent, bananas up 15.2 percent), costs of groceries increased for the second consecutive month, up 1.5 percent compared to 1.8 percent nationally.

For the past six months, local food costs are up 5.9 percent, compared with a 3.3 percent jump nationwide.

TRANSPORTATION. Transportation costs also rose, up 1.2 percent. First Security blames higher gasoline prices and a third month of increased costs for auto maintenance. For the past six months, local transportation costs are down 1.8 percent compared with a 2 percent decrease nationally.

UTILITIES. Local residential utility bills rose 0.5 percent in January, following three months of declines. Higher rates for water and natural gas were cited. For the past six months, local utility costs have increased 3.1 percent, identical to the national increase.

HEALTH CARE. For the third month in a row, local health care costs were down, dipping 2 percent in January. Nationally, health costs rose 1.1 percent.

CLOTHING. Clothing expenses locally were also down in January, by 1.3 percent, the second consecutive monthly decline. For the six months, local clothing costs have dropped 3.7 percent while national prices have gone the other way, rising 2.4 percent.

RESTAURANT FOOD. Prices at Wasatch Front restaurants ended a two-month upward trend in January, decreasing 1.1 percent during January compared with a 0.5 percent increase nationally. For the six months, local costs of eating out have gone down 2.3 percent while nationally, prices climbed 2 percent.

HOUSING. Housing costs - based on average rents - remained stable along the Wasatch Front, compared with a slight 0.4 percent national increase. For the past six months, housing costs have dipped 2.5 percent while nationwide costs have risen 1.3 percent.





MAR.1988 6 MOS. MAR.1988 6 MOS.

100 CUM. JAN. 100 CUM. JAN.

All Categories 98.8 -0.7% -0.1% 104.2 2.2% 0.5%

Housing 96.7 -2.5 0.0 103.4 1.3 0.4

Transportation 97.6 -1.8 1.2 104.0 2.0 0.3

Health Care 100.6 -2.1 -2.0 106.0 3.3 1.1

Food 106.7 5.9 1.5 106.2 3.3 1.8

Clothing 94.7 -3.7 -1.3 104.7 2.4 -2.3

Utilities 98.2 3.1 0.5 106.2 3.1 1.0