The cost of living for Wasatch Front residents went down 0.8 percent in January, the second consecutive monthly decline locally, according to First Security Bank's monthly report.
Local increases in the costs of clothing, health care, utilities and groceries were offset by declines in costs of transportation and restaurant food. Housing expenses were stable for the month.The local decline in costs compared with a national increase of 0.1 percent (non-seasonally adjusted) as reported Wednesday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Since First Security began the reports in March 1988, the Wasatch Front Inflation Index has risen 9.1 percent, about half the 18.1 percent increase nationally as measured from the same base month. Over the past six months, local costs have risen 1.7 percent
Here's how the various spending categories fared in January. Certain categories are given more weight in the overall index than others as determined by the Labor Department in surveys of spending patterns of the average family.
GROCERIES - For the third consecutive month, food prices increased locally, up 0.1 percent in January. Decreases for meat - chicken was down 7.3 percent - and shelf items were offset by increases for alcoholic beverages and produce. Shelf items were down 0.4 percent overall but flour was up 11.7 percent and orange juice jumped 3.1 percent. Cheese was down 2.4 percent and soft drinks declined 15.4 percent. Overall, produce was up 1.9 percent.
UTILITIES - After a stable December, residential utility bills rose an average 0.4 percent in January. Gas rates declined 0.2 percent while electric rates broke a three-month stable trend to rise 2.6 percent. Water rates have been stable since September. Since the reports began, utility costs locally have declined 3.9 percent but have increased 7.6 percent in the past six months.
HEALTH CARE - Health-care costs were up 1.7 percent in January, the third month of increases. Costs for hospital care, dental care, doctor's care and non-prescription medicines all went up. Since March 1988, health-care costs have increased 16.8 percent with 3.8 percent coming in the past six months.
CLOTHING - Clothing costs increased 3.6 percent last month after declining in November and December. While price tags were lower for women's wear, prices of men's and children's clothing went up. Since March 1988, clothing costs have increased 10.1 percent with 5.5 percent of that coming in the past six months.
TRANSPORTATION - Local transportation expenses were down 4.4 percent last month. Higher costs for auto maintenance were offset by a second month of lower gasoline prices. Since the reports began, transportation costs have increased 6.2 percent, but a 7.0 percent decrease has been charted over the past six months.
RESTAURANTS - The cost of eating out declined for the third month in a row with a 3.0 percent decline in January. Since the reports began, restaurant food costs have increased 9.9 percent with 1.4 percent coming in the past six months.
HOUSING - Following five consecutive months of increases, local housing costs were stable in January. Since March 1988, local housing costs have increased 15.8 percent with 4.7 percent of that coming in the past six months.
Index Non-Seas. Adj.
Mar. 1988=100 6 Mos. Nov.
All categories 109.9 1.7% -0.8%
Housing 115.8 4.7% 0.0%
Transportation 106.2 -7.0% -4.4%
Health Care 116.8 3.8% 1.7%
Food At Home 119.2 3.9% 0.1%
Clothing 110.1 5.5% 3.6%
Food Away 109.9 1.4% -3.0%
Utilities 96.1 7.6% 0.4%
Other 104.0 0.7% -0.4%
Index Non-Seas. Adj. Seas. Adj.
Mar. 1988=100 6 Mos. Nov. Nov.
All categories 118.1 1.3% 0.1% 0.1%
Housing 115.6 1.0% 0.5% 0.2%
Transportation 116.9 0.9% -0.6% -0.3%
Health Care 133.7 3.7% 0.9% 0.7%
Food At Home 120.8 1.2% 0.7% -0.7%
Clothing 112.0 2.3% -1.3% 0.3%
Food Away 115.9 0.8% 0.1% 0.1%
Utilities 113.2 -0.1% 0.2% -0.3%
Other 131.3 4.5% 0.6% 0.3%