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The cost of living for Wasatch Front residents remained stable in June, First Security Corp. reported Wednesday. The bank holding company's monthly cost-of-living report showed inflation taking a slight dip of 0.02 percent for the month.

The mild decrease locally compared with what national news media described as a "surprising" 0.5 percent increase in living costs nationwide (non-seasonally adjusted) as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Housing, energy and food costs led the national increase.Private economists expected an increase of only 0.3 percent in the government's closely watched Consumer Price Index.

Robert Dederick, chief economist at Northern Trust in Chicago, portrayed the June burst in consumer prices as frustrating to the Federal Reserve Board's efforts to whip inflation.

"While inflation isn't really worsening, as this number would suggest, it isn't getting any better," Dederick said. "We've sort of got the worst of both worlds with a slow economy and a rate of inflation that is firmly entrenched."

Locally, First Security economist Kelly K. Matthews said local increases in costs of groceries, housing, transportation and utilities were offset by decreases in health care, clothing and restaurant food.

Matthews said the Wasatch Front Inflation Index, beginning at 100 when the monthly reports began in March, 1988, was 101.2 in June. Of that 1.2 percent increase, 1.1 percent has come in the last six months. That compares with an index of 111.4 calculated nationally from the same base month.

Here's how the various spending categories fared locally in June:

- Groceries - Reversing May's trend, food costs rose 0.3 percent in June with decreases in prices of produce and alcoholic beverages offset by increases in meat and shelf items.

Produce costs were down 1.2 percent led by tomatoes with a drop of 24.8 percent and celery, down 14.9 percent. Lettuce rose 36.1 percent and carrots were up 11.9 percent.

Meat prices increased 1.3 percent locally following a one-month decline. Beef franks increased 2.5 percent. Milk prices declined 13.0 percent, eggs were down 8.3 percent - the third straight month of declines - and soft drinks were down 3.8 percent. Bread prices increased 17.7 percent, and peanut butter was up 7.6 percent.

Since March, 1988, local food prices have increased 14.9 percent with 1.6 percent coming in the past six months.

- Transportation - For the second consecutive month, local transportation costs increased, up 0.9 percent. Higher gasoline prices were blamed. For the past six months, transportation costs have increased 4.7 percent, compared with a 2.4 percent increase nationally.

- Utilities - Residential utility bills rose 0.4 percent in June, compared with a 2.1 percent increase nationally. Higher local gas bills, up 0.8 percent, were the cause. Local water and electric rates remained stable.

- Housing - For the sixth consecutive month, Wasatch Front housing costs rose, up 0.4 percent in June compared with a 0.9 percent increase nationally.

- Restaurant food - The cost of eating out led the June decreases with a drop of 3.0 percent, reversing May's trend. During the past six months, a 2.8 percent decline in restaurant food has been compiled, compared with a 2.7 percent increase nationally.

- Health care - Health care costs were down 0.4 percent in June as higher local hospital costs and higher prices for non-prescription drugs were offset by lower fees for a doctor's care. During the last six months, health-care costs have increased 4.0 percent locally, compared with a 4.8 percent increase nationally.

- Clothing - For the second consecutive month, local clothing costs declined in June, down 1.6 percent, compared with a 1.8 percent decline nationwide.


(Additional information)

Cost of living index

Wasatch Front

June 1990 Index Non-Seas. Adj.

MAR.1988=100 6 MOS. CUM. MAY

All Categories 101.2 1.1% 0.0%

Housing 101.8 3.2% 0.4%

Transportation 105.3 4.7% 0.9%

Health Care 106.6 4.0% -0.4%

Food at Home 114.9% 1.6% 0.3%

Clothing 97.4 5.9% -1.6%

Food Away 99.0 -2.8% -3.0%

Utilities 88.2 -6.6% 0.4%

Other 101.4 0.9% 0.0%


June 1990

Index Non-Seas. Adj. Seas. Adj.

MAR.1988=100 6 MOS. CUM. DEC. MAY

All Categories 111.4 2.9% 0.5% 0.5%

Housing 109.7 2.7% 0.9% 0.6%

Transportation 110.1 2.4% 0.4% 0.4%

Health care 118.3 4.8% 0.7% 0.7%

Food at Home 114.2 3.6% 0.6% 1.0%

Clothing 111.7 3.6% -1.8% -0.1%

Food Away 111.1 2.7% 0.3% 0.3%

Utilities 109.4 3.5% 2.1% -0.2%

Other 116.7 3.2% 0.8% 0.9%