Inflation reared its head along the Wasatch Front again last month . . . but just a little.
According to First Security Bank's monthly Cost of Living Report issued Friday, prices of goods and services rose 0.2 percent locally during September, the second increase in a row.First Security's chief economist, Dr. Kelly K. Matthews, said the rate of price increases in September was well below the nation's non-seasonally adjusted increase of 0.7 percent reported Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Annually, said Matthews - that is, adjusted for predictable seasonal highs and lows - the inflation rate along the Wasatch Front in September would be 2.1 percent. For the past four months, the local cost of living has risen 0.4 percent.
Decreases in costs of clothing, transportation and restaurant food were offset by price hikes in utilities, groceries, housing and health care.
Local grocery costs increased for the third month in a row, up 1.7 percent in September. Decreases in meat prices were offset by price increases in produce, shelf items and alcoholic beverages. Over the past six months, food expenses were up 5.5 percent with nearly all of the increase coming in the past three months.
Matthews said housing costs ended a two-month downward trend with a 0.7 percent increase - higher than the 0.3 percent jump logged nationally. He blamed higher rents for the jump.
If averaged over the past seven months, the First Security study shows, Wasatch Front housing costs have dropped 1.4 percent.
Clothing costs were down 1.7 percent locally in September, according to the report. That compares with a hefty 4.6 percent increase nationally. Locally, higher prices on men's wear were offset by lower prices for women's and children's clothing. Over the past seven months, clothing costs locally have decreased 3.2 percent.
Costs of getting around were also lower last month as transportation expenses dropped 2.2 percent, reversing an upward trend in August and contrasting to a 0.1 percent rise nationally in September. Over the past seven months, local transportation costs were up 0.9 percent.
And health care costs continue their upward trend. For the seventh month in a row - since First Security first commissioned an independent research firm to begin gathering the data - Wasatch Front residents are paying more for health care with a 0.3 percent increase in September.