A 0.5 percent increase in the cost of living in November along the Wasatch Front is the fifth consecutive increase, according to Kelly K. Matthews, chief economic for First Security Bank.

Decreases in clothing costs were offset by increases for utilities, transportation, food eaten in home and in restaurants, health care and housing. Matthews said that since he started giving the monthly reports in March 1988, the overall cost of goods and services has increased 7.3 percent, with 6 percent coming in the past six months.Nationally, the cost of living increased 0.3 percent in November, according to the U.S. Labor Department, the first break in inflation for consumers since Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, which caused oil prices to skyrocket.

The seasonally adjusted increase in the department's Consumer Price Index followed an increase of 0.6 percent in October and even larger rises of 0.8 percent in September and August.

Matthews said the Wasatch Front inflation index (with March 1988 equaling 100) was 107.3, compared to 114.3 calculated nationally from the same base month.

Matthews' figures, broken down by category:

- Clothing. Following one month of increase, Wasatch Front clothing expenses fell 1.5 percent in November. Higher price tags for children's clothing, reversing an October trend, were offset by lower prices for men's wear, also reversing an October trend, and women's apparel.

- Utilities. Residential utility bills increased 1.9 percent in November, after one month of stability. A 3.6 percent rise in natural gas prices caused the increase. Electric bills have been stable for the past eight months, and water rates have remained the same for three months.

- Transportation. For the seventh consecutive month, transportation costs along the Wasatch Front have increased. Higher gasoline prices (3.6 percent) caused the increase in November, which offset lower costs for automobile maintenance.

Groceries. Food prices increased 0.8 percent in November with produce increasing 4.2 percent, meat increasing 3.1 percent and shelf items such as toilet tissue, cheese and peanut butter helping boost the prices.

- Restaurants. Eating out cost 0.6 percent more in November, the report said, breaking a three-month downward trend. Lower prices on salads and side vegetables were offset by higher prices for main dishes prepared with beef.

- Health care. Higher prices for non-prescription medicines caused an overall increase of 0.4 percent in November, reversing a downward trend in October.

- Housing. Housing expenses increase 0.4 percent in November, a continuation from October. Higher rental fees were responsible for the increase.

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Cost of living idex

October 1990

Wasatch Front

Index Non-Seas. Adj.

Mar. 1988=100 6 Mos. Aug.

Prior

All Categories 107.3 6.0% 0.5%

Housing 106.2 4.8% 0.4%

Transportation 125.7 21.3% 1.1%

Health Care 107.8 0.8% 0.4%

Food At Home 117.3 2.7% 0.8%

Clothing 104.7 5.7% -1.5%

Food Away 106.0 4.0% 0.6%

Utilities 93.7 5.9% 1.9%

Other 104.0 2.6% 0.5%

National

Index Non-Seas. Adj. Seas. Adj.

Mar. 1988=100 6 Mos. Aug. Aug.

Prior

All Categories 114.3 3.4% 0.2% 0.3%

Housing 111.3 2.5% -0.2% 0.2%

Transportation 117.4 7.7% 0.9% 0.6%

Health Care 122.3 4.7% 0.8% 0.8%

Food At Home 115.9 2.3% 0.3% 0.7%

Clothing 115.3 1.8% -0.7% -0.2%

Food Away 112.5 1.8% 0.3% 0.3%

Utilities 110.2 2.9% -0.4% 0.5%

Other 120.4 4.5% 0.2% 0.5%