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WASATCH FRONT COST OF LIVING UP .4%

SHARE WASATCH FRONT COST OF LIVING UP .4%

The cost of living for Wasatch Front residents rose 0.4 percent in April, the third consecutive month of rising prices locally, First Security Bank reported Friday.

Nationally, inflation rose only 0.1 percent (nonseasonally adjusted), according to figures also released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor.First Security's chief economist Kelly K. Matthews, said inflation has gone up 21.0 percent locally since the bank began tracking costs in March 1988. During the same period, prices have risen 26.4 percent nationally.

Here are how the various categories fared during April:

GROCERIES - Local food costs jumped 2.9 percent in April, the sixth month in a row of increases and sharply higher than the 0.1 percent increase nationally. Meat led the way with a 7.0 percent hike in prices. Sirloin steak was up 19.9 percent, ham increased 17.3 percent and bacon prices rose 7.2 percent.

Produce increased 3.5 percent, continuing the March trend. Tomatoes were up 31.6 percent and celery was up 11.0 percent. Onions, cucumbers, apples and carrots were all cheaper.

Egg prices declined 13.8 percent in April, but pasta was up 41.7 percent after declining in March.

Since 1988, grocery prices have risen 26.3 percent but have declined 2.0 percent over the past six months.

HEALTH CARE - Local costs inflated 1.1 percent for the month, continuing the March trend. Higher costs for hospital care and a second month of increases in prices of non-prescription drugs were cited. Nationally, costs were up 0.4 percent. Since the reports began, health-care costs locally have risen 29.1 percent.

UTILITIES - Residential utility bills declined 1.8 percent during April, the third month in a row of lower costs. Gas bills declined while all other utilities were stable. Nationally, the decrease was 0.1 percent.

CLOTHING - For the third consecutive month, local clothing costs declined in April, down 1.9 percent. Children's clothing was higher, but men's and women's wear were less expensive. Nationally, prices increased 0.2 percent for the month. Since 1988, clothing costs have increased 6.0 percent locally.

RESTAURANTS - The cost of eating out increased 2.9 percent in April, the sixth consecutive month of higher prices. A 0.2 percent increase was reported nationally. Since 1988, local restaurant costs are up 31.0 percent.

TRANSPORTATION - Local costs rose 0.3 percent - identical to the national increase - last month after also rising in March. A second month of higher gasoline prices was cited. Since 1988, costs have increased 2.9 percent locally.

HOUSING - Local costs, measured by rent rates, increased 0.7 percent in April, the fifth month in a row of increases. Nationally, costs decreased 0.1 percent for the month. Since 1988, housing costs have increased 48.5 percent along the Wasatch Front.

MISCELLANEOUS - Locally, costs rose 1.5 percent, the third consecutive month of increases. A second month of higher costs for entertainment was cited.