After four months of declining inflation, the cost of living for Wasatch Front residents once again turned upward in April.
According to First Security Corp.'s monthly Wasatch Front Cost of Living Report, local costs of a wide array of goods and services rose 1.6 percent last month, well above the 0.1 percent increase reported Tuesday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Both the local and national figures are non-seasonally adjusted.First Security chief economist Kelly K. Matthews said local declines in utilities and clothing were offset by price hikes for groceries, transportation, health care, eating out and housing.
The Wasatch Front Inflation Index for April (beginning at 100 in March, 1988 when the reports began) was at 107.8, well below the 116.0 calculated nationally from the same base month.
Here's how the various spending categories fared locally in April:
GROCERIES - For the second month, local food prices increased, up 0.9 percent in April. Decreases in meat prices, down 1.1 percent, were offset by price hikes for produce, up 9.3 percent, alcoholic beverages, up 2.1 percent, and shelf items.
Carrots declined 15.5 percent, bananas were down 11.3 percent, celery declined 66.2 percent, and onions increased 60.3 percent, the second month of price hikes for onions. Eggs dropped 14.3 percent, butter went down 9.8 percent, bread was up 22.8 percent following two months of declines. Jelly prices increased 14.2 percent and flour was up 3.7 percent.
UTILITIES - Residential utility bills were down 6.5 percent in April, the third consecutive month of declines. Lower natural gas bills caused the decline as they dropped an average 11.7 percent. Water rates were stable for the eighth month in a row and electric rates remained constant after dropping in March.
TRANSPORTATION - The cost of getting around increased 5.4 percent in April on the heels of four straight months of declines. Higher gasoline prices were blamed. They, too, had gone down in the previous four months.
CLOTHING - Local clothing costs were down 2.7 percent in April. A third month of lower prices for menswear was assisted by a second month of lower price tags on women's apparel and children's clothing.
HEALTH CARE - Reversing March's trend, local health care costs increased 4.1 percent last month. Higher costs were measured for hospital care, dental care and non-prescription drugs.
RESTAURANT FOOD - The cost of eating out jumped 3.8 percent in April after declining in March. Higher prices for beef and chicken main dishes were logged, following declines in February and March.
HOUSING - Following a stable March, local housing expenses (measured by rents) rose 1.3 percent in April.
Index Non-Seas Adj.
Mar.'88=100 6 mos prior April
All categories 107.8 -1.6% 1.6%
Housing 109.2 3.3% 1.3%
Transportation 108.5 -16.1% 5.4%
Health Care 115.1 7.7% 4.1%
Food at Home 119.3 2.8% 0.9%
Clothing 103.7 -2.5% -2.7%
Food Away 115.4 10.0% 3.8%
Utilities 88.9 -2.8% -6.5%
Other 103.0 -0.5% 0.6%
Index Non-Seas Adj. Seas Adj.
Mar.'88=100 6 mos prior April April
All categories 116.0 1.1% 0.1% 0.2%
Housing 113.2 1.5% -0.1% 0.2%
Transportation 114.7 -2.8% -0.1% -0.3%
Health Care 127.8 4.4% 0.4% 0.5%
Food at Home 120.1 2.6% 0.7% 1.0%
Clothing 113.7 1.4% 1.0% -0.2%
Food Away 114.0 1.5% 0.4% 0.4%
Utilities 110.2 -0.2% -0.9% -0.5%
Other 124.2 3.3% 0.5% 0.8%