The overall cost of living in southern Utah remained very attractive compared to national averages during the fourth quarter of 1990, according to Alan Hamlin, associate professor of business at Southern Utah University.

Hamlin gathers quarterly cost-of-living data for the American Chamber of Commerce Research Association, as part of an index that lists about 300 cities and towns in the United States. In addition to overall cost figures, the costs of food, housing, utilities, transportation, health care and miscellaneous items are also listed as separate categories for comparison with other cities.The fourth-quarter data shows that Cedar City's composite cost of living index is 88.2 percent of the national average, Hamlin said. St. George came in at 91.1 percent.

"When compared to areas we target for economic development efforts, these figures look even more attractive," Hamlin said.

The composite index for Las Vegas is 107.6 percent. The figures for three California cities, Los Angeles, Anaheim and San Diego, are 123.9, 129.8 and 132.2 percent.

"In other words, it's between 40 and 50 percent more expensive to live in Southern California than it is in southern Utah," Hamlin said.

Helping to reduce the cost of living are Cedar City's housing costs, which are among the lowest in the nation, Hamlin said, and St. George's low utility costs, which are only 65 percent of the national average.